We confess, we were in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia CA. last week.

The sunset pix last week was actually off the edge of Cape Breton. It is a BEAUTIFUL, and an amazing place to visit. The island is a bit remote and many miles away for most of us, that all seems to add to it’s beauty. Worth the traveling effort!

*** BIG NEWS*** Today we are announcing the up and coming series of Artist Features. We think it will be 1x a week, hopefully thru the winter, and starting in a few weeks. We are planning to kick off this exciting new path with a series of Featured Cape Breton Artist of many genres. We are very excited about this!  A new member of the  Botaniumus  community, an artist themselves will be conducting most of the interviews. (hint: he is a photographer and journalist.) We will work our way around this magical island, so stayed tuned. After Cape Breton we will feature various artist we know and or have met in the past year or so.  If you know some one who creates amazing work for whatever reason PLEASE let us know. We would love to meet/make new artist friends. We are also searching for a great name (clever and descriptive) for the art series. All ideas will be considered: email: botanicalbb3@gmail.com your ideas, the top 3 will end up as a contest with you, the viewer, able to vote and so help pick the winning name.

In the meantime, Tilly is on the edge of the Cabot Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. The grand views make one want to soar with the birds! Tilly has had to raise wings, think, stretch and marvel in awe at the amazing feats of natural beauty.

Cabot Trail makes Tilly want to fly
Grand vistas make me want to fly!

Smitten with Muffins…..Fun Food Friday lives on.

I found this recipe on a website called smittenkitchen.com. It is by a woman named Deb who seems to live with a itsy-bitsy NYC kitchen. She also seems to have a wonderful site, full of personality and great sounding food!  Add to that many many many cooking credentials and awards and it is yet another wonderful find!

Julia Pumpkin Muffin
Julia and Pumpkin Muffin time!

“Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from the American club, in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil*
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar**
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

* Oh jeez, I messed up on this, too, using a 1/2-cup instead. It’s amazing anything ever turns out in my kitchen. That said, I also can’t attest to the oil-levels in the muffins either, though mine are fine.

** OMG! This too! I for some reason kept 1/4-cup aside, and wondered why the recipe called for so much. I didn’t use it all.” ——— Thanks to the Smitten Kitchen we look forward to many more yummy recipes and fun readings.

***Julia also want to remind you that Monday is a holiday here in the grand USA – thank you Chris for finding us (ha ha)… we will be taking the day off. See you all on Wednesday.

The Art of Food – Visual Feasting w/Arcimboldo

Arcimboldo SummerArcimboldo Jurist

This post is compiled primarily from www.smithsonianmag.com. All quotes are from the Smithsonian.com article (link above.)

Humor, but with a twist of reality, botany and zoology: Arcimboldo’s shows skill and due diligence to his times and those disciplines. “Even seemingly pedantic botanical details bear out the theme of empire. Arcimboldo’s composites incorporated exotic specimens, such as corn and eggplant, which sophisticated viewers would recognize as rare cultivars from the New World and beyond, where so many European rulers hoped to extend their influence.” …Arcimboldo’s royal patron, was the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II…“Rudolf’s father, Maximilian II, the Hapsburg archduke and soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor, welcomed the painter in his Vienna court in the early 1560s. Arcimboldo remained with the Hapsburgs until 1587 and continued to paint for them after his return to Italy.”

Giuseppe Arcimboldo clearly had a playful side as well as his own method for whimsy! Check out the image below-the still-life, which was not a typical subject matter of his time. One way a basket with fruit…upside down an amazing head of fruit!Arcimboldo-Reversible-Head

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (also spelled Arcimboldi) (1527 – July 11, 1593) was an Italian painter. Today he is best known for creative and imaginative composite heads created from objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. He has some what of a resurgence of popularity in todays modern world.

“The first known composite heads were presented to Maximilian on New Year’s Day 1569. One set of paintings was called The Four Seasons, and the other—which included Earth, Water, Fire and Air—The Four Elements. The allegorical paintings are peppered with visual puns (Summer’s (see above) ear is an ear of corn) as well as references to the Hapsburgs. The nose and ear of Fire are made of fire strikers, one of the imperial family’s symbols. Winter wears a cloak monogrammed with an “M,” presumably for Maximilian, that resembles a garment the emperor actually owned.Earth features a lion skin, a reference to the mythological Hercules, to whom the Hapsburgs were at pains to trace their lineage. Many of the figures are crowned with tree branches, coral fragments or stag’s antlers. The paintings were meant to amuse, but they also symbolize “the majesty of the ruler, the copiousness of creation and the power of the ruling family over everything,” says Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, an art history professor at Princeton who is author of Arcimboldo:Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting. “In some ways it’s just humor, but the humor resolves itself in a serious way.”  — Abigail Tucker is the Smithsonian’s Magazine’s staff writer.   Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Arcimboldos-Feast-for-the-Eyes.html#ixzz1ZOT1DwdI

Arcimboldo-Water: part of a set of paintings: Earth, Water, Fire and Air—The Four Elements

It is a very interesting article, I highly recommend it, click the link above, or here, and read the whole article. I think it will blow your socks off —think of him, his time and his work. Take a few minutes read and look, I promise it is worth it! Look closely and you will be amazed by the literal/visual puns and the truth of his work.

Saturday we are off to Hey Day at The Mass Audubon, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary. The Love Birds are pleased to be part of the PRINCETON ARTS SOCIETY & MASS. AUDUBON WACHUSETT MEADOW, 2012 Calendar called “The Nature of Art.” Starting Saturday the calendars will be for sale, and the center will be displaying the artwork featured in the calendar. I don’t know what month we are, we will see when the calendar is unveiled! My guess is February since they are holding hands and are called The Love Birds. What’s your guess?

Creativity – our ART theme continues.

I found this most amazing piece on one of my “standby” sites called – URBANTIMES  – Optimistic Forward-Thinking Online Magazine.  (http://www.theurbn.com/)

Source: langwitches.org ) (via Urbantimes)

“KK Shakes For Perspective

Raghava KK is a self-taught artist who has had a colorful life history full of ups and downs. It shows in his various works, which fluctuated between exuberance and morbidity, but always with a message of truth that tries to make us think. In this example he vies for a world without bias, where children are taught perspective from the earliest of ages. His unique perspective from living outside of his place of birth allows him to try to see his surroundings with empathy. After all, he got to live and walk in the footsteps of those who weren’t like him. He must have done this very well, because others forgot that his background was different from theirs. So, he seems like a perfect person to help provide these lessons for us all. Don’t you think that this shaking up of our perspective can help us all understand someone with different views? It seems so simple, and yet not enough people attempt this. It’s about time that we did.

Here’s his new interactive children’s book, Pop-It.”  Above article was written by  on September 22, 2011 and posted on the URBANTImes  (http://www.theurbn.com/2011/09/raghava-kk-shakes-for-perspective/)

TED talk:  http://www.ted.com/talks/raghava_kk_five_lives_of_an_artist.html

POP-IT at home

It was a big download and took some time but ohhhh so worth the $1.99 it cost! It may be one of the coolest books for kids I have ever seen. I admit, I don’t see a vast amount of kids art and books, but I DO look and I AM fascinated by them.  I do not have any “uprights” commonly known as having 2 legs and upright standing children, we only have the 4 legged more horizontal variety that bark! Regardless, I still LOVE this book. POP-IT “is a new form of storytelling that teaches open-mindedness to children and parents .” (iTunes description) The artwork is fun and fab…the interactivity made me laugh and enjoy it even more. If you have an iPAD download it now! I think you will be amazed at the creativity – and the message of empathy, love and acceptance for all.

Is there a better way to start the week? I think not. POP-IT: generalPOP-IT: KIRKUS ReviewPOP-IT: GPOC Interview