A Few New Projects

I have been a little behind on updating photos of some of my recent projects I finished up this past spring so here they are.

A logo and business card for M3 Investigations. This project was fun because I needed to think outside my box of girly, swirly, pretty things and think about a logo that could represent this private investigator as someone professional and respected in the industry. He was very happy with the final product and so was I!
This thank you card project was for the cake company I recently created a logo and brand for, Sugar Pine Cakery. Amber, the sister of the owner Allison Sayles, surprised her sister with these simple branded thank you cards that she could use for various business purposes. One thing I really like to do is play around with envelopes and envelope colors. We chose Kraft paper for these cards and I think they tie in really well with the feeling and the location of the business, Tahoe City, California.
Up next we have save the date cards for Erica and Chirs. Their wedding will take place in November which we are excited to attend! I am now working on invitations for their Las Vegas wedding.
Finally I created a baby shower invitation for Jenny Richardson's baby shower. They are waiting to find out if the baby is a girl or boy, so we choose to use these gender neutral sweet colors for the shower invite. Baby Richardson is due on my birthday, August 2nd, and I am betting on a little girl, what do you think?
Stay tuned for more to come, I have a very busy summer!


Happy Father's Day!

I had the pleasure of celebrating Father's Day all weekend long with both sides of our families! I hope everyone had an opportunity to spend time with loved ones this weekend and to tell their Dads just how special they are. Love you Dad and Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful Dad's out there! Wishing you a great week.

Father's Day was a great excuse for me to do some party planning! Friday night we cooked a farm fresh meal for my Mom and Dad. I found a bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe's for just $6.99 with a masculine feeling and bright yellow and orange colors which were perfect for our dinner centerpiece that lasted all weekend long. We finished celebrating the weekend with my husband's family at our backyard BBQ filled with fun doggies, an adorable baby, good food, and tasty white wine sangria!

For my dining room centerpiece I used recycled cans and jars to break up the centerpiece and spread the flowers out a little more.

I also found these two treasures from Trader Joe's, man I love that store! This adorable little succulent plant for our coffee table and bright pink carnations for the entry hallway.
You might have seen from my previous posts that my parent's have a gorgeous backyard with so many bright roses and my Mom brought me some which fit perfectly in the nook over the fireplace.
And finally, we have two big hydrangea plants in our front yard and we have been waiting for them to fully bloom all spring. Summer is here and they are still not full, so I don't know what they are doing but this is what they look like now.


My Conscious Friday Night Meal

Gino went into San Francisco for a dinner night with the boys so I had a night in at home by myself. Lately my body has been craving natural whole foods. For Christmas our friend Noel gave me a cookbook titled, "The Conscious Cook Tal Ronnen". It is a vegan cookbook created to give everyday meat eaters delicious meatless recipes that will change the way they eat! The cookbook has many great vegan recipes and I have wanted to try one for some time now. Gino probably isn't the best vegan meatless entrée guinea pig so I thought I would try a recipe out myself. Some of you may know that years ago I was a vegetarian but don't worry, just because I occasionally want a vegan whole food meal, it doesn't mean I am going vegan or vegetarian =)
Recipe of Choice: Old Bay Tofu Cakes with Pan-roasted Summer Vegetables, Horseradish Cream, Apples, and Beets
I choose this recipe because I loved the colors of all the vegetables and apple plus it seemed filling enough. Since I was preparing the meal for myself, I cut the recipe in half and had enough to make 5 tofu cakes with enough for dinner and leftovers.
1) Mix 1/3 vegan mayonnaise (I just used the light mayonnaise I had in my refrigerator), 1/3 cup regular Cashew Cream (the Conscious Cook uses Cashew Cream in many recipes but I choose to use sour cream instead just because I didn't have the time to make his recipe for Cashew Cream), 1 1/4 tablespoon prepared horseradish, juice of 1/2 lemon, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Already my substitutions have made this recipe non-vegan but for the most part I followed the recipe.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup finely diced onion and 1/4 cup finely diced carrots to the pan and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and saute for another 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.
3) With tongs, hold a half of a nori seaweed sheet over the oven burner flame and lightly toast the sheet by gently fanning it over the low flame. Be careful not to burn the edges. Once done toasting, the recipe tells you to pulse it until powdered in a grinder, but I just crushed the flakes with my hands and then diced them up more with a knife. That seemed to work fine.
4) Place onion mixture, nori seaweed powder, 1 pound diced firm tofu, 1 1/4 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, pepper, and juice of half a lime in a food processor and pulse until mixed well but still chunky.
The recipe called for nutritional yeast flakes but I couldn't find them in my grocery store so I omitted that part. It also called for white pepper but I used regular black.
5) Cover half of a beet with water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar to the boiling water and let simmer for about 25 minutes or until you can poke the beet with a toothpick in it's center. Drain and peel the beet then slice it into small pieces. Finely dice 1 Fuji apple. Mix apple, beet, 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin oli and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This is actually the first time I have cooked with beets so I wasn't sure if I liked them much so I used extra apples and only a little bit of the beet.
6) In a shallow dish combine 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 3/4 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. In another shallow dish, pour 1/2 cup of plain unsweetened soy milk. Take the tofu cake mixture and dip it in the soy milk on both sides then place it in the bread crumb mixture on both sides. This amount of ingredients made me 5 tofu cakes. Place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until firm (I was hungry so I put them in the freezer and they did fine).
7) While you are waiting for the tofu cakes to firm up, prepare the Pan-Roasted Summer Vegetables which includes half of a shallot, 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas, 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved.
8) Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Saute the tofu cakes until browned on both sides and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
9) At the same time, heat 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the shallots and saute for 3 minutes. Add the peas and corn and saute for 3 minutes. Finally add the tomato halves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute for about 2 more minutes.
10) Finally we are about ready to eat! Overall, this recipe took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare and that was a little too long for me. I took advantage of the time and cleaned the mess I made in the kitchen and assembled a cute little flower arrangement in a jar with coffee beans.
To serve the dish, place a large spoonful of the Pan-Roasted Summer Vegetables onto the center of the place and top with 2 tofu cakes. Place heaping spoonfuls of the apple beet mixture on top of the tofu cakes and drizzle with the horseradish cream sauce.
Evaluation out of 10?
Taste: 8.5
It was extremely tasty and the tofu cakes didn't have a raw tofu flavor. The lemon and lime flavors added a nice zest to the dish. I was right to add more apples than beets because I still don't know how much I like them. Now, to figure out what to do with the other 2 beets I have left from the grocery store? I loved my version of the horseradish cream sauce and it was a great addition to the meal!
Ease of Preparation: 6
It took too long! I liked the final product but it wouldn't be a dish I could prepare on a busy weeknight.
Appearance: 9.5
In my opinion, all the colors of the vegetables and fruit are so beautiful together and you can just feel the health benefits by looking at the dish =) Just what my body was asking for!
Cost of Ingredients: 5
I wouldn't say it was a cheap dish so it gets a 5. There were items I didn't use because I couldn't find them or I didn't already have them in my pantry and there were items that I purchased such as seaweed sheets that I don't know how I will use next.

Overall, it was a lovely Conscious Friday Night Meal that made me feel healthy and good before bed.


'Tis The Season....For Minted

Many of you know that I worked at Minted last December (in addition to my full-time job) as a design associate doing design and layout of their immensely popular holiday greeting cards. Minted challenges their community of designers each year to come up with fresh, modern, and creative designs for each new season. It might seem a bit early to start thinking about the holidays and holiday greeting cards but in order to gear up for their busiest time of year, they just finished the 2010 Holiday Challenge. The stakes are high and the prizes are even higher so of course I had to submit something! This was the first time I submitted designs in an official challenge and there are many prizes up for grabs, including submission from a "Best New Entrant" so maybe I have a chance!

Right now all the 1370 designs are in a first round voting period. They will be narrowed down to a second round after that for more voting and then the awards will be announced. If a design is selected, then the designer gets a 5% commission on all net sales, which is huge when you consider the amount of orders they went through last year and I can imagine they will only be more popular this year.

Check out some of the designs I have submitted, and vote for them if you like them along with other beautiful cards you like. There are some really, really beautiful and creative cards in the running so the competition is stiff but I enjoy the exposure to such talented designers that inspire me to keep improving my design skills. Feel free to share this with friends or anyone else who would be interested in voting. Thanks for your help and support!

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