Helping others.

Doing good ~ Cans for Comments
Candice at The New Modern Momma is participating in Cans for Comments.

For every comment on her blog, Candice will donate 1 can of food to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
We, Botanical Beauties & Beasties,  found out about this from  I {heart} Rhody. Way to go Candice, “Girl Power!” What a great and super easy way to help out. Please help Candice help others.
This got me to thinking…and I googled “holiday giving.” A bit down the page I found this group. “The Philanthropy Journal is an independent voice and champion for nonprofits and their supporters…Through a daily website and free, weekly email bulletin, we deliver nonprofit news, resources, announcements and job listings…The Philanthropy Journal is a program of the Institute for Nonprofits at NC State University in Raleigh, N.C.”
According to these guys there is actually good news.  A summary…
“The giving spirit has struck Americans, with 71 percent of people surveyed by the American Red Cross saying they plan to donate the same amount or more to charity this holiday season than last, a new poll says…only 26 percent say they will donate less this year than last, says the Red Cross’ Holiday Giving Poll, which was conducted by phone in September and October and generated 1,020 responses…82 percent Americans say helping others is an important holiday tradition, and 68 percent believe it is even more important this year because of the ailing economy…” read the whole story here.
Way to go Americans!  Happy Giving/Helping to others and the earth. 

Pinterest

Gordy_Pinterest
Gordy wants to share our new fun!

Since Gordy is the Artist and Art Journalist he wants to tell you all about our latest  greatest “AMUSEMENT”… It is our Pinterest site (http://pinterest.com/botanicalbb/ ) We are just beginning but we are hooked! It is fun. It is helpful. It is interesting. It is a great way to find amazing new ideas. It is a great agent for sharing.

What is Pinterest you say? Well, according to the source itself of Pinterest:  “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests….People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes. (We use to for { i.e. we “pin” } Design ideas, finding all sorts of great new ideas, things we want to “save” and to be able to find easily, & things we want to share!) A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer. Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from….You can Add the PIN-IT button to your BookMark Bar…Once installed in your browser, the “Pin It” button lets you grab an image from any website and add it to one of your pinboards. When you pin from a website, the Pinterest team automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator.”

Pinterest says its MISSION is : “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” http://pinterest.com/about/

Interested? Want to know how to sign up?: Pinterest is currently invite-only. You can request an invite from Pinterest or you can be invited by someone who is already a part of Pinterest, like us at Botanical Beauties & Beasties! We would love to invite you if you want, just drop us a line, make sure you give us a correct email address to use, and consider it done! (FYI, just so you understand, I do not invite you for any other reason than I am enjoying Pinterest. I receive no “personal gains” in any way other than sharing a new tool and some fun.)

When you receive an invite, you can register via Facebook Connect or connect through Twitter.

 “Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and other popular services like Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr and Quora, are what former Pinterest designer Sahil Lavingia calls “self-expression engines.” Pinterest lets users express their creativity by providing an easy way to visually bookmark items they come across online.” -TechCrunch

Books and their gilded covers. E-Pub or physical book?

Ron with Books
Which do you prefer? (ps you can see my winter reading list as well on the table top!)

In this gift giving season, we here at BBB3 think books are always a great gift idea….E-Pub is eco-friendly, but holding a book is still an experience we like.

“If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading.”…

“When people do beautiful books, they’re noticed more,” said Robert S. Miller, the publisher of Workman Publishing. “It’s like sending a thank-you note written on nice paper when we’re in an era of e-mail correspondence.”…

“For publishers, the strategy has a clear payoff: to increase the value of print books and build a healthy, diverse marketplace that includes brick-and-mortar bookstores and is not dominated by Amazon and e-books.”…

To showcase books with special design elements, booksellers at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., created a display of lushly embroidered Penguin classics with a sign reading, “Give classical beauty this holiday season.”

read the New York Times article here...

What do you think?

Holiday sing along..

What we expect, and at this point even want…
“Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! ”
…but it’s not-it was a record-breaking 67˚ in Boston on Tuesday, can you say ODD? Do you think cyclical weird? Climate issues? Hard not to.

~ regardless ~

Julia is getting ready, baking and cooking up a storm. (pun intended – ha ha, fa la)
She has her magic elf boots and Xmas cactus cap on, there’s nothing she can’t do now!
Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or whatever your winter celebration may be, they are all right in front of us now. One more day and it is December. That too is amazing.

Julia in a Holiday mode
Julia in Holiday mode… magic hat and boots, she’s ready to go!

That’s Figgie pudding she is holding… more about that on Fun Food Friday!

Continuation of Technology helping disabled folks. Good Stuff!

Oregon looks to iPads to help disabled people vote

Voting for all!
API image and Felix cheering him on!

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon was first in the nation to have all residents vote by mail. Now it’s pioneering another idea: vote by iPad.

Voters in five counties are filling out and returning their mail-in ballots for a Tuesday special primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Wu, who resigned following a sex scandal. A handful will mark their ballots not with a pen but with the tip of their finger.

It’s the latest attempt at using new technology to help voters with disabilities cast ballots privately.

Armed with iPads and portable printers, county election workers are going to parks, nursing homes, community centers and anywhere else they might find groups of voters who have trouble filling out traditional paper ballots. 

Using the iPad, disabled voters can call up the right ballot and tap the screen to pick a candidate, with or without the help of election workers. The voters then print the completed ballot and stuff it in an envelope to sign, take with them and drop in the mail or an official ballot box.

Voters with poor vision can adjust the font size and screen colors, or they can have the iPad read them the candidates’ names and even the voter pamphlet. A voter with limited mobility could attach a “sip-and-puff” device to control the screen. Lewis Crews, 75, who has severe arthritis, didn’t have to hold a pen to fill out his ballot.  “It’s a lot simpler for me. I think it’s a great setup they got,” Crews told The Associated Press last week in a phone interview after he filled out and printed one of the first-ever iPad ballots.

Elections officials helped Crews operate the iPad, he said, “but now that I’ve seen how it works I’m confident I can do it on my own.”

State elections officials say they’ll use the same system in the special general election in January. And if the pilot project is successful, they’ll make the service available across the state. They believe Oregon is the first state to try using iPads to mark ballots.

Oregon officials decided to try iPads because their other equipment for helping disabled people vote is nearing the end of its life. The old tools, including laptops …. Read the rest of the article here. 

…Elections officials emphasize that, technically speaking, nobody is voting by iPad. Rather, they’re using the device to mark a ballot that’s dispensed from a portable printer and mailed to elections offices for counting, just a like a hand-marked ballot.

“Any time you start using paper, then people who are blind can’t see it, and they would then need assistance. That’s what we’re trying to get away from.” Decker said. “People with disabilities should be able to vote independently and privately. That is our goal.”

Fun Food Friday…Thai Stir Fry and Julia

I haven’t spoken with my friends over at The Growers Exchange for a while, so today we say “Hi” to them, give them a big thanks as well as a nod of appreciation for both the recipe below  (yeah Caroline!) and for the donation of 5% to Plant A Row For The Hungry, if you buy their FAB Herb kit, a perfect gift for your friend the gardener or chef! However, for this deal you must act this weekend. They just wrote me yesterday and said -“We’re also getting ready to roll out our new spring 2012 lineup on Monday, which means the end of our huge fall sale. Since we’re making room for spring, all of our 4″ herbs are only $3 until Sunday evening (except for Bay and Lemon Grass.)” GREAT DEALS for the Herb lovers of the world!

First the food……Caroline’s Thai Basil Stir Fry (From The Growers Exchange)

Julia_Thai and Herbs
Julia with the Thai Basil Stir fry on one hand and the Potted Herb Kit in the other.

“This is an easy recipe for even the worst cook out there! You can add whatever you like, flavor to your desired intensity and best of all, it’s super healthy and cheap to make! Try substituting your protein source if you’re not into tofu…chicken or shrimp will also work well!

  • Canola Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the wok)
  • 1 Pkg Organic Firm Tofu
  • 1 Bag Frozen Vegetables (I used a stir fry mix that included broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers and rice noodles)
  • 3 Spears Fresh Celery
  • 1  Carrot, Shaved
  • 1/4 Chopped Onion (or add to taste)
  • 1 Cup Crushed Peanuts
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

Marinade  •1 Cup General Tso Sauce (I found this prepackaged at the grocery store)
• 1/2 Cup Thai Basil ‘Siam Queen’ (dried from fresh plants)  (Note from Julia, although it would not be nearly as exotic, or fun, you could use regular Basil)
• 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic

The  ‘Siam Queen’ Thai Basil I used was grown right here on our farm at The Growers Exchange! I salvaged one of the plants before it was done for the season and brought it home to experiment with. When I realized that my cats were going to eat it if I didn’t do something with it quickly, I snipped the stems at the soil level and dried the leafy stalks in my warm, dry pantry. (Our of their furry, destructive reach!) After it was dried, I placed it, stems and all, into a labeled zip lock baggie for later used. Removing the dried leaves were easy–just rub the sides of the bag together and they literally crumble from the stems into a perfect dried seasoning. Remove the stems and you have a delicious culinary herb with sweet, licorice and lemon flavored tones. Don’t be intimidated to use new herbs, as I was at first with this exotic Basil. Being so used to its Italian cousins, like the ‘Italian Large Leaf’ Basil, I was a bit pessimistic when planning my meal, since it was a new flavor. (‘Lemon Sweet Dani’ Basil, another lemon-anise flavored Basil, may also be a great flavor to add to your favorite Asian recipe)  Luckily, it turned out GREAT! Try using new culinary herbs in your recipes and you might surprise yourself as to the exciting new flavors you discover!
Instructions **This works best if your vegetables are either fresh or you have thawed your frozen veggies prior to cooking. Heat your wok on medium heat and add canola oil til it coats the bottom. While this is heating, slice tofu into even pieces and press excess water out. Add pressed tofu, General Tso sauce, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, and 1/2 of the Basil ‘Siam Queen’ to a bowl and let marinate. Make sure all pieces are coated. (You can also let your protein marinade over night which will make it more flavorful. Because tofu absorbs sauce or seasoning easily, it may not need as long to marinate. For chicken, shrimp or other proteins, they may take long to absorb the desired amount of flavor.)
Add a clove of garlic and the chopped onion to the heated canola oil in the wok and let them simmer for a minute to release their flavor. Then, add vegetable mix, chopped celery, crushed peanuts and season with the remaining ‘Siam Queen’ Basil and red pepper flakes. Let this simmer together, remaining on medium to low heat, and stir occasionally. Once mixture seems to be cooked thoroughly and there are no frozen pieces left, add marinated tofu. Stir and let cook for 3-5 minutes or until tofu has cooked through and mixture seems well combined and cooked. (The air in your kitchen should be brimming with aromas by now!) Top with shaved carrot and let simmer for another minute, but remove from heat before carrot is wilted. …Serve and top with more crushed peanut. You can also use an edible, aromatic herb like ‘Citrus Kitchen’ Mint as a great garnish. Eat and enjoy!” – Thanks Caroline! http://theexchange.thegrowers-exchange.com/carolines-thai-basil-stir-fry/ 

THE GREAT DEALS. If your Herbs did not make it inside, or they got a frost bite nibble, like mine did. You can purchase from The Growers Exchange a lovely Home For The Holidays Herb Garden Kit, it is even on Sale! (picture of it above in Julia’s right hand.) “Purchase this kit during our Fall shipping season and we’ll donate 5% of every sale to Plant A Row For the Hungry! …This custom culinary kit includes BayProstrate RosemaryEnglish Thyme and Garden Sage – four all natural, farm fresh herbs that will compliment all of your favorite holiday dishes. Also included is a hand thrown clay pot, one bag of rich soil, four of our very own favorite family recipes, a gift card and decorative packaging —all topped with a big, bright bow…Not only is this a great gift for someone you love, but it also helps hungry families across America this holiday season. Every time you purchase this flavorful custom kit through our fall shipping season, we’ll donate 5% of each sale to Plant A Row For The Hungry.

LIST PRICE: $59.95   OUR PRICE: $49.95      YOU SAVE $10.00! ”
… and don’t forget about the $4.00 Herbs as well.   click here for web page to buy

Eat Well, Do Good and Be good!

See you all on Monday – have a great weekend, and don’t forget about Daylight Savings Time if you live in place that changes.

Wintering Herbs Indoors

OK, I admit it. I scurried as fast as I could, and in a rush brought ALL my herbs and tender plants in right before our freakish Halloween weekend snow storm!  Therefor, when this crossed my email this morning I was thrilled! Thank you so much to The Herb Companion, now I know better what I should have bothered with and what I could have ditched. My full windows will be happy to have some “disappear” and I will have an easier winter maintenance routine. You can read the full article on-line, it is called “Wintering Herbs Indoors: Save your favorite herbs by bringing them indoors for winter care, and enjoy fresh flavor throughout the season.” By Betsy Strauch.  Click http://www.herbcompanion.com/Gardening/Wintering-Herbs-Indoors-06.aspx#ixzz1cTQpG13P

Ron at  a window
These all got a bit of "frost bite" - ugh. This is one of a few windows now populated with herbs. We will see if I can resuscitate them!

I have taken some highlights out that I found very useful. The article begins “Autumn. The harvest of herbs is winding down, and the frenzy of trying to stay ahead of the weeds has abated. It’s easy at this time of year to kick back, relax and forget about gardening until the new seed and nursery catalogs start arriving in January. Herb gardeners who live where winters are frost-free can get away with this, and so can those in more rugged climates who only grow annuals, such as dill, or tough perennials, such as garden sage. However that leaves a lot of gardeners unaccounted for, including those who grow rosemary, tender lavenders or other plants that will die at temperatures below 15 degrees, as well as those who have a yen for fresh herbs all winter. Those people (and I’m one of them) need to make some decisions now.

…forget about the annuals, such as summer savory, chervil, cilantro, borage and dill. Their lives are about over; if you want them indoors in winter, you can start new plants from seed… Don’t bother bringing in tough perennial culinary herbs whose dried leaves have good flavor — I’m thinking of sage, oregano and thyme — unless you think you can’t get along without the fresh leaves…Don’t bring in huge tender plants if you don’t have room for them, no matter how badly you need them for next year’s herb garden…Lastly, turn your back on diseased or pest-ridden plants…

Think cuttings…this is well into the article and worth reading if you are thinking about doing this. The section is called “DISASSEMBLING AN HERB.”

To read how she brings her plants in, well, you will have to go to the article! It is on page 2…Caring For The Plants Indoors– page 3, but I will tease you with… “As light levels diminished with the approach of winter, the herbs seemed to enter a holding pattern. None appeared to be growing, and only the rosemary offered many leaves for harvesting. I watered only when the soil became dry or nearly so. Sometimes I was a little late, and the pineapple sage wilted on several occasions, but they recovered well after being watered. I applied no fertilizer.”
(Note: This article originally appeared in the October/November 1993 issue of The Herb Companion.) By the way, this is a lovely magazine if you like Herbs. I throughly enjoy my copy each time it comes in the mail. 

Read more: http://www.herbcompanion.com/Gardening/Wintering-Herbs-Indoors-06.aspx?page=5#ixzz1cTQcXnkT

See you all on Friday for Fun Food Friday!

Happy Halloween in all it's glory?

Halloween brings out Birdellis uber theatrical side. Being a fashion model and designer she often feels like an actresses anyways, so this is almost like a regular runway day for her. The difference now is, she gets to choose her outfit. She was thrilled to be invited to THE “HOT” designer party’s, she went (it was Saturday night)  to Heidi Klum’s party… Heidi’s costume, in her own words, “It’s kind of like a dead body with the first layer of skin ripped off. It’s basically like me naked.” Birdelli went as a full-fledged Diva.

Read more about Heidi’s costume:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2055263/Heidi-Klum-Halloween-costume-2011-Dead-body-pictures-annual-party.html#ixzz1cIHSWUu1

Birdelli ready for Halloween
Birdelli ready for Halloween

Doodles, next step sketches?

Wikipedia: “A sketch “done extempore” is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purpose: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principal. Sketching is generally a prescribed part of the studies of art students.”

The sketches of some individual artists have become very well-known, including those of Leonardo da Vinci which have become art objects in their own right, with many pages showing finished studies as well as sketches.

The term “sketchbook” usually means  a book of plank paper on which an artist can, (or has already) drawn sketches. Does anyone have a Doodlebook? My sketches seem more like doodles…. but, if a sketch is as stated above ( rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not intended as a finished work. ) then these are sketches? I am no Leonardo but I share anyways! Take the poll below and vote for Sketch or Doodle.