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I spy…good design

by abby on June 30, 2011 | Comment

abbydora book design

As you know the natural beauty seen on our road trip was amazing, but there were also a variety of eye catching design finds. Bad design and typography is all around us and so when my eye spies some of the better examples I pounce to document it! I pulled together a collection of the design and type highlights to share with you. These gems were found while on a cable car in San Fran, wine tasting in Sonoma, and sightseeing along the central coast of California.

SAN FRANCISCO BEAUTIES
abby dora illustration
abby san fransico

SONOMA TASTEIES
abbydora design artist
abby dora graphic design
abbydora stationery

CENTRAL COAST SCORES
abbydora butterfy
abbydora custom cards
abbydora design identity
abbydora promotional design
abbydora design children's books

Remember keep your eyes open for your own great design finds. You might even want to check out the latest stamp collection released by the post office today.

Big Sur Textures Revealed

by abby on June 29, 2011 | Comment

abby dora travel
Hope you enjoyed the texture brain teaser yesterday. Now for the answers!

Texture 1
Succulent plant, Hens and Chicks (you gotta it Kirk!)

Texture 2
Seaweed

Texture 3
Large clovers

Texture 4
Redwood bark

Texture 5
Driftwood

Texture 6
Pier poles in the bay

Texture 7
Totally weird plant found in gardens at The Getty! (Looked like coral to me.)

Where you close? How many did you know?

I’ll leave you with a couple more views from the west coast.
abby graphic design
abby Carmel CA

Just makes me want to jump on a plane and head back out west!

Big Sur, Big Bold Beauty

by abby on June 27, 2011 | Comment

AbbyDora photograph
I’m back from the breath taking west coast! D and I took a week-long road trip along Route 1 on the Pacific coast. We started in San Francisco and ended up in LA. To understate it, the coastline is quite dramatic in the central coast (more like every turn makes your heart beat a little faster out of excitement). This trip has been a goal of mine for about 5 years. I wanted to see the cliffs and the ocean in Big Sur with my own eyes. Happily Mother Nature cooperated with clear skies for most of our time there. Mother Nature is quite the artist as well. The color combinations of the deep blues and teals of the ocean paired with the bright greens on the sloping hills, and the touches of neutrals and splashes of yellow wild flowers couldn’t have been painted better. You can now begin to drool.
AbbyDora design
AbbyDora Design illustration

She even threw in a few evenings of breath taking soft purple clouds of fog rolling in off the ocean. A sea of fog replaced the water as far as the eye could see.
abby dora road trip
abby design books

Being in this environment is hard not to be inspired by natural beauty. Even on a smaller scale there was beauty to be found. The textures found along our trip were also eye catching. Can you figure out from where theses textures came? Answers tomorrow!

Texture 1
abbydora stationery

Texture 2
abbydora cards

Texture 3
abbydora graphic designer

Texture 4
abbydora design custom invitation

Texture 5
abby dora rochester new york

Texture 6
abbydora new york

Texture 7
abbydora design children

Yoda Wants His Book Back

by abby on June 16, 2011 | Comment

Happy Friday all! It’s quite an exciting day today as I am wrapping up projects and double checking to be sure I packed my sunglasses and my underwear. Later today D and I fly out to the west coast for some vacation fun! I hope to be back with a few spectacular photos and great stories.

Before I go though, have you heard the news about the release of an epic (that’s right Dan, epic) new book? Alas, no, it’s not a new Harry Potter. It’s a story that has even more dedicated fans. Cue the music! Coming this September is: The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force.

The Jedi Path comes packaged in a truly amazing, mechanical box. When you press the button Star Wars-esque sounds play as the two panels open and the book is elevated up. Impressive, very impressive.

Apparently as the story is told, Jedi Masters have passed down this book from generation to generation. When the Jedi temple was destroyed only one copy of the book as survived. Wait, wait, I’m not doing the story justice. Thankfully, Lucasfilm has created a trailer to explain it all.

Can you believe this excitement is all for a printed book! It’s fantastic! The book has a worn look and feel to it. Pages are torn, missing, scribbled on. There are even loose elements stuck within the book—a braid of hair, coffee stained napkins to name just a couple. The instructions are paired with full color illustrations as well.

All of these extra details immerses the reader into the world of the Jedi. Young and old will be giddy with excitement while reading this book. The Jedi Path is a limited edition book created by the print production companies: Imago and backer&mayer!, and of course, with Lucasfilm.

This is sure to be a collector’s item, so if you want it you better get in line, Padawan.

Lathering Up Creativity

by abby on June 14, 2011 | Comment

gouache abbydora
Where do you do your best creative thinking? I bet you a box of brand new paint tubes that it isn’t sitting in front of your drawing table, easel, or computer screen. Those areas are too close to the problem at hand. I know when I’m sitting at the computer screen or looking down at a blank piece of paper I feel the pressure to find the “right” solution as quickly as possible, but sometimes the creative juices just aren’t moving. Time to step away. Take the advice from an artist who has trouble doing this. It’s a challenge to be honest with myself and realize that for what ever reason my creativity isn’t jiving at the moment. This doesn’t mean I will never find the solution. It only means I need a break from focusing on it. My suggestions: take the dog for a walk, do some laundry, or go exercise. Your brain will continue to think about the creative problem, but it’s on the back burner. For me, most often my creative breakthroughs happen in the shower. It’s truly amazing. The world seems so simple in the shower. Lathering up my hair, an idea will pop into my head for an illustration. Scrubbing my feet, a new typeface for that logo might just work. No effort seemed required for these solutions. Stepping away from the designated work areas really, truly, honestly works to spark creativity. Here’s one of my own shower ideas for a watercolor painting.
abbydora watercolor
abby illustration painting

Quiche Kitchen Magic

by abby on June 10, 2011 | Comment

Abby dora breakfast

Happy Friday everyone!  Thankfully, I survived the unbearably awful heat wave. I even had a bit of foresight earlier in the week by making several individual quiches in order to not have to touch the stove or the oven during our last 48 hours of 90+ heat. (alas this apartment and studio is without a/c). My little quiches were such a hit with D and myself that I want to share the recipe with all of you too. Are you ready for another round of kitchen magic?

D’s mother gifted me the individual tarte/quiche pans for Christmas. Yes, it has taken me this long to actually try them, but it was so worth the wait! Since we had six pans, I wanted to make a base egg and cheese mixture and then customize each pan with different vegetables and offer D a meat option. Everything I used, I already had in the house, so it truly came together very quickly and easily.

I also made a whole wheat crust, just to shake things up a little. I used my pie crust recipe from The Magnolia Bakery Apple Pie and substituted one of the white flour cups for a cup of whole wheat flour. Here are the details:

WHOLE WHEAT CRUST

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons or ½ stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into small pieces

5 tablespoons ice water

 

TO MAKE THE CRUST

Combine the white and wheat flour and the salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender (the most handy tool in my baking arsenal) cut in the butter and then cut in the shortening. I find it easier to add them separately. Keep blending until the mixture resembles crumbly sand and has small pea size pieces of the butter and shortening.  Add in the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough is moistened. Using your hands, gather the dough together into a large ball. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

Now it time to prepare the egg and cheese mixture along with the vegetables and the bacon. Yes, bacon. We had some left over maple bacon stripes from the weekend, so not wanting them to so to waste, I decided it would be a nice touch to add some crumbled bacon bits into a couple of the quiches. I cooked about 3 strips of bacon. While the bacon is sizzling, I diced up the onion and sweet peppers. Both the onion and peppers went into my base egg mixture.  For cheese, we had a Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar block in the frig. It was wonderfully garlicy and turned out to be a great cheese to use for quiche, but, you can use a Swiss or Gruyere as well.

BASE EGG AND CHEESE MIXTURE

3 eggs, whisked

Egg White (from 2 eggs), whisked

1 cup shredded Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheese

1 ¼ cup milk (I used No Sugar Added Soy Milk)

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ cup of sweet peppers (I used yellow and red pepper)

¼ cup  Vandalia onion

Dash of Cayenne Pepper

Salt and pepper

 

Optional Additions

Maple Bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ cup broccoli, sautéed

¼ cup sliced, jarred jalapeño peppers

 

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

Set oven to 375 or 400 degrees depending on your oven. My runs cooler, so I tend to increase the heat.

Chop the peppers and onions and sauté them in a bit of olive oil, until they are just beginning to soften. It won’t take long, maybe about 2-3 minutes. While, they are cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. Add in the shredded cheese, milk, and flour. If you are wondering why Soy Milk, well that’s the only milk I have in the house (D prefers it), so that’s what I used. Simple as that. Mix in the cooked peppers and onion to the egg and cheese mixture. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper too.  Set that aside.  Note: If you want extra vegetables, sauté them now as well.

abbydora quicheAbby pie recipe

Bring out your chilled pie crust to a floured flat surface. I cut the ball in thirds and rolled one piece out to fit my 4” quiche pan. Trim the excess dough and fold and crimp edges. Repeat until all 6 pans are lined with dough.  Position the 6 pans onto a cookie baking sheet and place in the oven for 4 minutes. The dough just needs to begin to partial bake.  Pull them out and set them on the stove. Turn the oven down 15 degrees (350 or 375).

Now’s let’s fill our quiches! If you are customizing your individual quiches, then place the extra veggies or meat into the dough-lined pans first. For example, in a couple of pans I placed crumbled bacon pieces and then transfer some egg mixture into the pan. I like using a ¼ measuring cup to fill my quiches. Other pans received sliced jalapeños AND bacon and another quiche was all veggie, with added sautéed broccoli.

Place filled quiches back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. You want the mixture to be solid and slightly golden brown on top. Serve immediately.

abbydora brunch recipe

The first couple of nights we served our quiches with a green salad. Last night I sautéed fiddle heads with the remaining broccoli.—a very tasty side dish. We had these quiches 3 days in a row since each was slightly different and they were so delicious. Plus—the quiches reheat very well in a toaster oven. Bonus!

Celebrate Dad this Month

by abby on June 6, 2011 | Comment

AbbyDora Fathers Day
Summer is just around the corner. Can’t you smell the sunscreen already? I can hardly believe we’ve reached June. May was an actual blur for me. I had some event planned every weekend, so now that June is here I’m actually taking a moment and looking around. Thankfully, my creative juices are still flowing. This last week, I focused my energy on creating new cards to post to my Etsy shop. I created several cards to celebrate the big guys of our lives. Yep, that’s right our men—our Dads, Fathers, Papas, Pas, of the world. With all those names, it just seemed right to create a card that uses them all!
AbbyDora design stationery

I know my Father is an avid baseball fan and growing up one of the family activities was “throwing the ball around”. (Oh and, yes, I can throw a ball, just like the guys! Ask my friend Dan.) This memory inspired me to sketch the essentials of baseball. To add a little more color, I changed my sketch lines to blue and added a subtle hint of the playing field with a light green background.
Abby Dora designer

The last two cards I created have a dash of tongue and cheek. Mustaches are quite popular in recent years. Perhaps I was seeing more of them since I had been living in Brooklyn? Whatever the reason, men this year are sporting all sorts of styles of facial hair. The interesting part of the mustache-wearing crowd is the fact that from the neck down most of them haven’t given up on their youth. Converse sneakers and slightly unkempt ties can be seen on our fearless mustache men. These two cards were created to honor this special type of man.
Abby Fathers Day card
Mustache Dad card

Mark the date: Sunday June 19th is Father’s Day. Don’t forget to send your Dad a note of appreciation and love.

Art Girl Meets Science Guy on 72nd Street

by abby on June 3, 2011 | Comment

Abbydora design

While our stomachs were satisfied by amazing meals, D and I were able to feed our minds as well by visiting a couple of museums during our long weekend in NYC. I love art museums and miss them terribly since I moved out of the New York area. It’s strange how when something is so accessible you take it for granted, but now that I’m 6 hours away I miss my afternoon visits to The Met, MOMA, The Whitney, the Guggenheim, The Frick and so many more. Since we had limited time for museum visits, D and I decided to divide and conquer. While he’s a great admirer and art appreciator, let’s say that when given the choice between an art museum and a history museum, D will choose the latter. No problem for me! Have you ever strolled the galleries of a museum by yourself? It’s luxurious. There’s no schedule, no waiting for someone to finishing viewing a gallery before you move on, and no following along someone else. You simply decide to linger or skip over artworks of your choosing. For me my favorite spot in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a little, actually tiny, gallery on the second floor that displays the Degas pastel drawings of ladies bathing. The lighting is dimmed to protect the art, so it feels even more intimate. The drawings are just breath taking! I have long been a fan of pastels. I love the texture each stroke creates and the layering of colors. I have even created a few works myself using this medium, but Degas just takes it to another level. The layering of the colors to create the shading on the skin is beautiful. When you look closely you see blues and bright greens! I lingered again and again over these half a dozen pieces of art. I hated to say good-bye, but perhaps someday I will have a print of one of these bathers in my own house.

Strawberry fields
While I was visiting Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne on the upper eastside, D was visiting the inner workings of the brain and learning about the celestial skies on the upper Westside at the Natural History Museum. After a couple of hours, I walked through Central Park to meet him on the west side. Don’t laugh, but after 7 years of living in NYC, I never got to see the tribute to John Lennon. Happily I stumbled upon it over the weekend. I wonder if the rose is always placed above the type? We shared our museum adventures in the East Village at our favorite Jewish diner on 2nd Ave. I had my standard of homemade lentil soup and a grilled cheese sandwich—made with challah bread of course! Little bit of heaven right there.

Abby trip to NYC
Abbydora new york

The following day D and I stayed downtown in Manhattan. We started the morning with breakfast in Battery Park and then made our way over to the Smithsonian Native American Museum. There’s a museum here in NYC and another in Washington DC. This museum is housed in the original custom’s house. It’s a gorgeous building with a large central room topped by an oval ceiling covered in murals. The exhibition galleries surround this central room. One of the exhibits we saw was about the significance of “the horse” within several of the Native American tribes. The show was interesting and had a wide variety of artifacts, but for me the best part was the icon of a horse developed specifically to promote the show. The stylization came from actually Native American drawings on blankets and on stone. The horse logo is wonderfully simple and expressive. Even from this icon you begin to feel the energy and power of the horse within Native American culture.

All in all, it was a truly marvelous visit to New York. D and I are already looking forward to our next trip down.