Wednesday, September 30, 2009

for the love of logos

I love logos! I love the idea of creating a logo. I love creating logos. I love the long process of researching a company, brainstorming creative ideas, sketching out all the unworthy ideas that immediately come to mind and getting them out of the way. Eliminating the garbage. Reducing the clutter. Then I walk away from it all and do something completely different than think about logo design... clean out the chicken coop, pull out all the spent plants from the garden, make a batch of pesto with the last of the season's basil, bake some chocolate chip cookies... well, you get the idea. It's then that the best ideas hit me. Then I sit down and sketch more ideas. Nothing. Panic. Nothing. Panic. Beat myself up. Nothing. Panic. Sketch. Okay, I'm liking this a little. Sketch. Way too much going on. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. That's the amazing part of logo design. It's a long involved process. It's the process of taking in tons of information and reducing it all down to the most simple terms imaginable.

Here are some colorful logos I spotted while walking through Disney's California Adventure and Universal Studios this summer...






Have you ever had one of these In-N-Out burgers? Like a logo it's reduced to it's simplest essential ingredients. A thin meat patty, a large slice of tomato, a chunk of crispy lettuce and special sauce on a perfectly toasted bun. Yumola!

In-N-Out burger

Our good friend Ian stopped by with his Dad last weekend. I made some chocolate chip cookies. One of Ian's favorite things to do at our house. Eat as many of these as possible without getting sick. That and having fun with Isabel.

Is and Ian


I made four batches of pesto from the remaining basil to stash in the freezer for winter. These should get us through October.

end of season pesto

Last night was Back to School Night. Parents attend their child's classes in brief increments of about 15 minutes per classroom (six total) to learn what's in store for the year and what's expected of students. The stressful part was learning about several missing assignments. Then there were the tears when we returned home, and several hours of work through those tears. Each new school year brings at least a month of transition time. Maybe it's the shock of reality that life is not really a giant summer vacation.

On the positive side... I was very proud to see my daughter designed a logo that was on display outside her art class. I frequently find papers covered with small drawings around the house. Little logos in the making. Perhaps I've passed something on to her.

The disorganized part must come from her Daddy.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

eating locally

I've become a bit obsessed lately. Food obsessed. I'm purchasing (or growing) exclusively organic, local meats, fruits and vegetables. It's pretty easy to find these items in some of our local grocery stores. Farmer's markets and farm stands also offer an abundance this time of year. The problems occur when we go out to eat. I can't cook all the time! Recently we discovered a small, local, par excellence cafe. Ladybug Coffee Company in St Johns, Oregon. They use exclusively organic, locally sourced ingredients to make very tasty things. Everything. I do mean everything. Is made from scratch at Ladybug. We were pretty excited to discover this little gem.


Meet Angelcake. A flaky, buttery homemade buttermilk biscuit. She holds a perfectly cooked egg, topped with white cheddar cheese and a slice of slightly spicy organic chicken sausage. In a word... scrumptious!

Everything at Ladybug is made completely from scratch. Ladybug's owner, Angel O'Brien believes in sustainable living practices and puts these to strict use in her cafe. Her 15-page job application for potential employees includes questions such as, 'What is something that you do on a regular basis to make the world a better place?' and, 'What is one thing that you think would make Portland a better city? The statement that she has chosen as her business model is this. We believe in local. We believe in organics. We believe in sustainability.

homemade chai

sipping chai

My taste buds have never been seduced by a chai tea latte this delicious.

molasses cookie

sweet cake

Ladybug Coffee Co

It's estimated that on average, a restaurant in the United States contributes around 50,000 pounds of garbage to the landfills in one year. Ladybug has created less than 150 pounds in the nearly two years they've been open. Pretty impressive huh?

All electricity used at Ladybug is purchased from 100% wind power. They use secondhand silverware and cloth napkins. All edible leftovers are donated, egg cartons are given to local chicken farms, and egg shells and coffee grounds are taken by customers for use in their gardens.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

fall fare


The long, hot lazy days of summer are already becoming a distant memory as we gather school supplies, organize clothes closets, buy sweaters, all in preparation of the shorter, busier days ahead. I can't help feeling a bit apprehensive this time of year. I've had a great relationship with my daughter this summer, but it's bound to be altered as she enters 7th grade. The daily interaction with classmates has a way of altering a girl's personality. Then there's the addition of homework that will soon invade our world and turn our once quiet home into a battle zone.

It started raining sometime during the wee hours of Saturday and has continued off and on since. I haven't been motivated to go out and prop up the tomato plants, which have fallen over, heavy with green fruit. Bailey even needs a little push to go outside.


I did make this delicious comfort food yesterday, and I'm sharing the love with you...

comfort food

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pureed tomatoes (about 6 fresh tomatoes, or one 28 oz. can)
Diced tomatoes (about 5 fresh tomatoes, or one 28 oz. can) drained of juice
1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
15 no-boil lasagna noodles
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until simmering, but not smoking. About 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, but not browned. About 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. About 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add ground meats, salt and pepper. Break meat into small pieces and cook until it loses its raw color. About 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally until liquid evaporates and only fat remains. About 4 minutes. Add pureed and diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended. About 3 minutes. Set sauce aside.

Mix ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well combined and creamy.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

To assemble: smear the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Drop three tablespoons of the ricotta mixture down each noodle. Level by pressing flat. Sprinkle with 1 cup of grated mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce three more times. Place the three remaining noodles on top of the sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan.

Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 minutes and remove foil. Continue baking until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling. About 25 minutes longer. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

. . .

It helped make the rain palatable.

The chocolate chip cookies that Iz made helped too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

slow food

When we travel, as much as we'd like to eat well, we don't. We end up eating more fast food than we would ever consider at home. So this week is all about taking time to create homemade meals.


These beauties were ready and waiting in the garden. The potatoes were a nice side dish alongside a roasted chicken on Monday night. I boiled them until tender, then drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on a few herbs and sea salt and crisped up their outer skins on the stovetop. Yummy!

The basil was turned into pesto, which was a nice sauce for our homemade pizza last night. Toppings included carmelized onions, roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, sweet Italian sausage, mozzarella and chèvre cheeses. Whenever pizza is served, a movie night is in order. Last night's movie... Forrest Gump. I had a need to see this after having dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp in California last week. Following our meal, the waiter asked us a bunch of trivia questions about the movie, and I realized I needed a refresher course. I also need another serving of those delicious coconut shrimp. Are those considered slow food?


These little french baby carrots are the best! The seeds were the only package I purchased from a company called Renee's Garden. They'll be on my list for next year.

I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and it's got me thinking a lot about fresh, local food. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, it's a story of how Barbara and her family were changed by one year of eating only food produced where they lived.

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