Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Green With Envy: New Sears Craftsman Mowers Drive Sculpted "Lawn Love"

Photo: elowskylawn 
Don’t let the guys have all the fun with the homecare tools and appliances. Move over, buddy! It’s time for “Lawnmower Ladies.” After all, a beautiful lawn is described as “manicured” - and who knows more about that beauty regime?

Boosting the “lawn love” are recent product introductions from Sears. In June, just in time for garden season, the company showcased their line of Craftsman® Zero Turn Steerable Riding Mowers and Front Wheel “Walk Behind” (aka push mowers) at a NYC press event. The muscular mowers are designed for ease of use, especially when mowing large yards - plus feature the very cool, wireless, Bluetooth technology-enabled Craftsman Smart Lawn app. Available from the iTunes App Store, the Smart Lawn app is like having a personal assistant to help power riders take care of their mowers with product care instructions, quick access to product information and parts replacement ordering. The easy-to-use app is operable from any mobile device and provides graphics and text updates as part of its Pre Start Checklist so you can readily manage the mower’s battery life, blade replacement, and schedule to change the air filter and oil. It also offers maintenance tips and alerts along with weather tracking to help determine the optimum mowing time. Now there’s no worry of it raining on your mowing moments!

Think that mowing the turf is nothing more than straight lines up and back? Think again. The Smart Lawn app provides mowing suggestions indicating ideal mowing times based on user preferences, weather, and more. You’ll have the most styled lawn in the neighborhood!

The App also includes do-it-yourself maintenance videos and step-by-step tutorials on changing blades, installing a mulch kit and bagger, how-to change the oil, as well as product information, owner’s manual, parts, and accessories list. See, every beauty has accessories.

The Riding Mower has a zero-degree turning radius enabling riders to cut with precision and save time navigating around obstacles and against edges. Just like a sleek car, the mower features a single steering wheel with four-wheel steering - no more tricky contortions just to drive the yard. Instead, here is steady control of front and rear wheels. Missed a spot? Don’t drive around in circles - this easy to use model allows for reverse mowing. The mower’s Consistent Cut Technology allows riding mowers to “excel in tall grass and hilly terrain,” thereby sending a design statement that will make your neighbors rather green with envy.
Craftsman riding mower, photo courtesy of Sears Craftsman
The Craftsman V-Twin Kohler® 7000 Series Smart Choke Engine eliminates the need for manual priming (three cheers!) and enables the rider to reach speeds of up to 7 MPH - and no worries about a speeding ticket!

The mower is available in either a 42” and a 50” cutting deck model. Go big or … well, you are home!

Is your lawn more on the petite size? The Craftsman® brand’s line of three propelled mowers are designed with you in mind, sweet pea: a front wheel drive gas mower, a wide deck gas mower and a rear wheel drive caster - with 7-inch front lockable caster wheels with front and back ball bearings. With less friction, there’s steady, easy driving -- and safety - but you knew that. Designed with innovative features, the push mowers, er, “walk behind” mowers are “reliable, high-quality and inventive,” says Sears Craftsman.
Pro Series Wheel Drive Caster Mower; photo courtesy Sears Craftsman.  Look at those wheels!
Let’s not overlook how noisy suburbia can be due to those “Mow, Blow, and Go guys" tearing up the quiet lawns and gardens there. Craftsman to the rescue! According to the company, their “Quiet Power Technology engine is 65 percent quieter than other mowers.” The quiet mowers may not insure a zen-like experience but they do offer a clutch of pro-like features that make it stress-free and easy to use, including a Briggs & Stratton® EXi Platinum Series Quiet Power TechnologyTM engines with plenty of torque. Plus, EXi engines never require an oil change, simply just use the Check and Add Oil as needed feature, making maintenance easier than ever. With its Ready Start® & Smooth Start recoil system, there is no need to choke or prime the engine before getting started -- you’ll have to rely on the gym weights for those arm-defining exercises. The mowers also variable speed options and include a Dustblocker bag and precision plus cutting system “delivering high performance bagging and mulching with a durable blade.” Good gardens depend on good, consistent mulching. The dual-point wheel height adjustment feature allows for a customized height to match your yard’s terrain.

The mower also has an EZ Store handle that provides a vertical position for storage and “three handle height positions for multiple users.” Come on - you can’t have all the fun. Share the “lawn love.”

All mowers are available at Sears, Sears Hometown Stores, Sears.com and Craftsman

Sunday, July 24, 2016

International Tequila Day! Celebrate this “Sunday /Funday” with Cocktail Recipes

Bloody Mary Tequila Mariachi, courtesy Patron
Don’t know your tequila from the days of shots and salt?! A quick primer: Tequila is a Mexican spirit from Mexico, dating back thousands of years to the Aztecs when it was known in the form of a milky, fermented drink known as pulque. This drink, which used the sap of the agave plant - used to make tequila today, was worshipped by the Aztecs - so much so that two gods were attributed to it, Mayahuel - a female divinity, (naturally) and Patecatl - the god of healing and fertility; the husband of Mayahuel. A cocktail couple to rival Zelda and F.Scott Fitzgerald, no doubt. 

Fast forward to the Spanish Conquest, when Spanish troops expedited the tequila we know today by improvising with mud and agave. From this, mezcal was created. In the mid 16th century, the trade between Mexico and Spain launched the first major tequila distillery in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico.

In 1974, Mexico claimed intellectual property of the term “tequila” which is why it must be made and aged in specific areas of Mexico - in the same way France safeguards its native Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system.

And now, in 2016, bars and restaurants everywhere have fallen back in love with tequila, which is a must-serve cocktail at parties, events, and, of course, on International Tequila Day!

Creative tequila recipes to celebrate National Tequila Day: 

Twisted Bocktail 

Just as its name suggests, this beer cocktail highlights a refreshing twist by combining Tres Agaves Reposado’s wonderfully fresh taste with lemon and a splash of Hefeweisen.

1 ¼ parts Tres Agaves Reposado

¾ part Lemon

½ part Cointreau

½ part Simple Syrup Hefeweisen

Combine all ingredients minus the beer; shake and strain into a highball. Top with beer and garnish with lemon.

Green with Envy 
Cruz Tequila’s smooth and soft palate compliments the tart yet fresh tasting concoction that has just the right sized pinch of heat to tantalize your senses in the heat of July.

1 ¾ parts CRUZ Reposado Tequila

¾ part Lime

¾ part Honey Water

2-3 pieces Green Pepper

Dash of Cayenne

Shake and strain into a lowball glass rimmed with a cayenne, sea salt and white pepper rim.

Maestro Dobel Diamante Lemon Margarita

16 oz ice

8 oz Maestro Dobel Diamante tequila

2 oz of fresh lemon juice

4 oz Agavero Orange Liqueur

1 lemon wheel

Add ice, Maestro Dobel Diamante tequila, lemon juice, and Agavero, stirring vigorously. Serve in a cocktail glass with ice and a lemon wheel for garnish.

Bazaar Bloody Maria

Red tomatoes + Pinch Piri Piri

Orange tomatoes + Habanero

Yellow tomatoes + Saffron

Green tomatoes + Zaatar - a spice that is a mix of salt and sesame seed

Pinch Salt

Pinch Pepper

2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 oz Water

Blend ingredients together well and strain for seeds. Make the Bloody Maria ice cubes in advance and freeze each color individually.

In a highball glass crush 1-2 Bloody Maria ice cubes of each tomato color. Fill the highball with ice, layering by color.

In a glass, combine 2 oz Patron Reposado

.75 oz lemon juice

3 dashes Bittermans hellfire bitters

5 dashes horseradish tincture

Pour mixture into the highball glass over ice; add straw and garnish.


This feature was prepared and written in conjunction with Shannon Ho, Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern.  Thank you! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Outdoor Dining at Vandal Restaurant offers Street Art & Sophisticated Street Eats

Vandal Restaurant's Street Art, photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
This feature was prepared and written in conjunction with Shannon Ho, Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern.

The outdoor dining at Vandal restaurant is an artsy space for those who love the feel of seeing New York City’s colorful streetscape portraits through the lens of a cafe; a kind of theater with an intimate, colorful view of the pulsating Gotham art scene; altogether a potent mix of fine art and culinary art. Think of dining in a fine art gallery - with a spicy mashup of street art and street food. 

In fact, Renowned street artists Eelus and Shepard Fairey cover three walls of Vandal’s al fresco dining space. It's a full-frontal sensual experience to take in the floor to ceiling red-hot and black aesthetic. 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
The architecture also makes it possible to dine with an extended, outdoor seasonal experience. The decor hints of a garden with greenery on the ceiling, accented with sparkly lights and petite vases with a single, bright flower on each table.
Of note: because of its proximity to the street, noise is very much a part of the menu. If the cacophony of “traffic symphony” isn't your cup of tea - Vandal offers quieter, more intimate dining spaces within its two indoor dining areas, (total seating is 360) and long bar. Even more street artists beckon throughout the restaurant, including Tristan Eaton, Will Barras, Vhils, Apex and Hush.

Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
To get started, the drink menu offers an array of cocktails. For something with a kick, Sergeant Bell Pepper is a gin cocktail that brings the heat; at the same time delivers a refreshing coolness with each sip.

On the sweeter side, the Double Dutch is a fruity vodka cocktail with a mix of refreshing seasonal berries that is a sexy summer beverage to savor.  

The menu is categorized by sizes. Under the “Small & Medium” portion of the menu, the waiter recommended ordering two or three items for a party of two. This was baffling at first, as they were similar to the entrees in price, but upon seeing and tasting these delectable appetizers, they proved to be well worth it. 
The Thai Papaya Summer Rolls are light and “breezy,” with the crispness of an apple. 
Seafood lovers should consider the Tuna Crudo or the Blackened Shrimp Arepas. The Tuna is tartare, with a kick of curry and fresh, sweet coconut. The Blackened Shrimp offers multiple, nuanced layers and textures: the crunch of the fried corn tortilla, the tenderness of the grilled shrimp, and the purple radish garnish, decked out by the smoothness of the chipotle cream. 
Another recommendation was the Shawarma Salad, made with chicken, homemade falafel croutons, and a thick, pasty white hot sauce. The salad was inspired by halal typical cart street food, but boasting a sophistication in its superb quality and variation of textures. This salad exceeded all expectations, and is highly recommended. 

The “Large” portion of the menu consists of sizable entrees. The Prime Skirt Steak Fried Rice is savory and sweet. It includes Chinese sausage--a sweetened variation of pork, with a sunnyside-up egg on top. The dish has a runnier texture from traditional fried rice due to the egg and array of sauces; marries well with the tender steak and sweet sausage. It is a unique Vandal recipe.  
Another entree worth noting is the Balinese ‘Beach Style’ Branzino which is small and sweetened with a soy sauce glaze.  

And how could you leave without dessert? Vandal has its own pastry chef -- and the confections reflect the dedicated intricacy of the original recipes and their elegant presentations. The Blueberry Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich is absolutely top notch. Fresh berries are a seasonal garnish, along with the sweet berry sauce trickled on top of the pretty macaroon. These flavors accent the fresh, house-made vanilla ice cream. If asked to choose between this and the Nutella Cannoli, the ice cream sandwich wins out. 
Blueberry Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, photo courtesy Shannon Ho

Vandal offers a multi-sensual dining experience that goes beyond the food itself.  Go for the food and drink.  Linger for the art… 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dream in Horticulture: New York Botanical Garden Hosts 4th Annual NYC-Area Green Industry Intern Field Day

Green Industry Intern Field Day BBQ Celebration & Networking at event's conclusion, photo courtesy NYBG

Affectionately referred to as the Hortie Hoopla, I’ve attended and covered the groundbreaking event for Garden Glamour since its premiere: The New York Botanical Garden Hosts 'Hortie Hoopla' Premiere because I passionately believed in its mission and genuinely wanted these plant wizards to succeed in a profession/career/calling that becomes ever more critical to our world’s art, health, and sustainable food supply. Hortie Hoopla is a fun way to learn and network with a community of talented green industry professionals. 

Tri-state - or “road-warrior” horticultural interns are invited to attend the New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG)  School of Professional Horticulture for its Fourth Annual NYC-Area Green Industry Intern Field Day on Wednesday, July 20 from 11 a.m. to dusk.

This free annual event for horticultural interns features remarks from top horticulturists and garden designers, the chance to visit The New York Botanical Garden's outdoor plant collections, and speak with horticultural curators, participate in a challenging but fun plant ID contest, a BBQ, plus perhaps most importantly, the time to network and create industry contacts with the pros, along with more than a hundred attendees.  Here, interns discover career avenues and opportunities that many didn't know existed or was possible.  If you can dream it in horticulture, working with plants; you can do it…Learn how.


11 a.m.
Check-In and On-Site Registration, Ross Gallery
Self-guided viewing of exhibition Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas

Lunch On Your Own (Pine Tree Café is open all afternoon, or venture to nearby Arthur Avenue for some unforgettable Italian fare, or bring your own)

12:30–3 p.m.
Presentations in Ross Hall by Charles M. Yurgalevitch, Ken Druse, Karen Washington, and Quill Teal-Sullivan
Keynote Speaker: Kelly Norris, Director of Horticulture, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
3–4 p.m.
Visit with NYBG Horticulture Curators at: Native Plant Garden, Thain Family Forest, and Azalea Garden
Plant ID Contest
4–5 p.m
Visit with NYBG Horticulture Curators at: The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Maple Collection and The Burn Family Lilac Collection
Plant ID Contest
5 p.m.
BBQ in Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden with prizes for Plant ID Contest, and more.


Ken Druse 
Ken Druse, photo courtesy NYBG
Ken Druse is an internationally recognized author, award-winning photographer, and acknowledged founder of the natural gardening movement. The New York Times calls his books "bibles for serious gardeners." A popular speaker, Ken can also be heard on his podcast and public radio show Ken Druse Real Dirt.

Ken is one of my personal, hort heros; arguably, he’s singlehandedly dazzled and delighted the intern audience at Hortie Hoopla since the launch of the program he helped give birth to with his insight and vision.

Karen Washington 
Karen Washington, photo courtesy NYBG
Karen Washington is a community gardener and board member of The New York Botanical Garden. As a community activist once called "urban farming's de facto godmother" by The New York Times, Karen has been instrumental in advocating for community gardening and expanding access to food in the Bronx. She is the founder of Black Urban Growers and Rise & Root Farm, and a board member of Just Food and the New York City Community Garden Coalition. I’ve been inspired to hear Karen speak and attended some of her instructional classes -- believe me, she’s a force of nature -- a hort and community treasure.

Quill Teal-Sullivan 
Quill Teal-Sullivan, photo courtesy NYBG
Quill Teal-Sullivan is the garden manager at Meadowburn Farm in Vernon, New Jersey. A lifelong gardener, she played a key role in rehabilitating the historic Helena Rutherfurd Ely Garden at Meadowburn and currently oversees its care.

Kelly D. Norris 
Kelly D. Norris, photo courtesy of NYBG
Kelly D. Norris is a nurseryman and the first Director of Horticulture at the newly revitalized Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. A compelling speaker, Kelly is also the award-winning author of Timber Press publication: A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts and Plants with Style.

Called "one of the rising stars of American horticulture," he was one of the young horticulturists featured in Ken Druse's 2013 article, “The New Generation,” for Organic Life Magazine. Kelly is an expert on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

Sponsors who generously donate to the BBQ so that the food and drink is free to attendees deserve a shout out!  These green supporters include:
  • Mario Bulfamante & Sons
  • Landcraft Environments, Ltd.
  • NY State Arborists Association 
  • Trees New York
  • The Bronx Brewery 
  • Bartlett Tree Experts
  • Riverside Park Conservancy
  • Floral Landscape Services

To register for the Green Industry Field Day, Hortie Hoopla, email Eric Lieberman with the name and email address of each attendee and your organization at elieberman@nybg.org or
call 718.817.8580.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New York Yankees & Celebrity Chef, Andrew Carmellini celebrate Harlem Grown

Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka harvests cabbage at HOPE chef's garden event. Photo courtesy of Yankees
This is a first in a series of bylines written by Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern, Shannon Ho

Recently, the New York Yankees and celebrity chef, Andrew Carmellini paid tribute to Harlem Grown

garden and greenhouse on 134th Street as part of the team’s, Helping Others Persevere and Excel (HOPE) Week annual program that since its 2009 launch, the entire Yankee lineup celebrates "individuals, families, or organizations worthy of support.” 

This year, the team and Chef Carmellini surprised Harlem Grown founder Tony Hillery and kindergarten students from PS 125, involving the children in gardening work and healthy food prep demonstrations. 
Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka Is Ready to Dig
Harlem Grown was chosen by the Yankees as an exceptional group to recognize during this philanthropic week. Harlem Grown founder Tony Hillery changed careers in the wake of the 2009 recession, leaving his successful limousine business to eventually create Harlem Grown. It was conceived after Hillery realized that there were little-to-no healthy food options in his neighborhood of Harlem. Wanting to change that, Hillery took an abandoned lot across the street from PS 175, reclaimed it via an application to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and converted the space into an urban farm. 
Chasen Shreve at L - RIchard Bleier at C - Michael Pineda at R - in the Harlem Grown Greenhouse

“When we learned about Harlem Grown’s beginnings and the difference they were making in the community, it became clear that they were an organization that should be recognized as part of HOPE Week,” said Michael Margolis, Assistant Director of Baseball Information and Public Communications for the New York Yankees.  Margolis also explained that the Yankees team had a preexisting relationship with celebrity Chef Carmellini, and when asked to participate in the day’s events, the chef was “extremely gracious and enthusiastically volunteered his time and energy.”

Chef Andrew Carmellini provided salad demo to budding chefs. Tony Hillary (L), Ivan Nova, R. Photo courtesy of Yankees 

New York Yankees in attendance included: Masahiro Tanaka, Andrew Miller, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Rob Refsnyder, Austin Romine, Chasen Shreve, Kirby Yates and Richard Bleier. 
Andrew Mill shares picked cherries; Tanaka - C, Rob Refsnyder - R

During the ceremonies, the team presented a donation to Harlem Grown on behalf of the Yankees Foundation. Other participants involved were the hip hop group, TheLox, Miss New York USA 2016 Serena Bucaj, and singer-songwriter Kany García.

Sheek Louch - Jadakiss - Tony HIllery - Styles P - Serena Bucaj - Kany Garcia

Recognizing Harlem Grown during this year’s HOPE Week was based, in part, on the link - or affiliation - to the Yankees’ own healthy dietary habits mission. Players’ dining is coordinated via Cynthia Sass, the Yankees’ Nutritional Consultant, who was also present at Harlem Grown for HOPE Week.

Kirby Yates at L and Chasen Shreve at R Digging at the Farm.
Group Shot with Everyone - Players, Staff, Celebs and Kids

“Our organization is focused on preparing our players in every way, including helping them to incorporate a balanced diet for optimal performance,” Margolis said. “What Harlem Grown is doing is no different. They are showing children what they can eat to feel good on a day-to-day basis and provide the building blocks for a long and healthy life.”

The kindergarteners from PS 125 were chosen to be recognized alongside Hillery because of their working association with the Harlem Grown program and their participation and contribution to the garden and greenhouse throughout the school year. The Yankees Hope program provided the students a hands-on learning experience with an award-winning, farm-to-table chef, in a fun and delicious way. Together, chef and the students harvested, cooked and enjoyed eating the salad that Chef Carmellini prepared.

HOPE Week commenced in 2009 as the Yankees’ way of giving back to organizations, individuals and families off the field. The mission of HOPE Week each year is to inspire and encourage others, and that the acts of goodwill performed reach beyond those who receive them. The initiative hopes to spread altruism, with the fundamental value of “people helping people,” according to the Yankees Foundation.
Yankees Donation Is Presented to Tony Hillery

“Tony Hillery saw a need for healthy food options in the community and opened a door to a new way of thinking about food to hundreds of children and their families,” said Margolis. “Even more importantly, he is able to bring the actual food into their lives.”