Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Power of Words_________________ The Power of Images.

To my family who has just lost a member of their dear family,
Words are usually hard to find
and harder for me to compose,
but I found these great words from others
for you.
Love, love, love you all***

I found all these words that worked so well with the images from plastic_sfoonss. There's so much more great inspiration on that site. Below are more about love and more that beautifully display physical graphics. I'll tweet the ones that worked better as text. Click here to find your favorites.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasted: Fuel Cafe

Since there was so much good buzz about the opening of Fuel Café, an appropriate name alluding to its past life as an old filling station, it was the first place we thought of for our special dinner outing. See a description below of some of the things we tasted and a more detailed review from my husband Christopher.

1} Café Salad ~ Fresh greens topped with candied pecans, apple slices, and crumbled bleu cheese served with the house vinaigrette.
2} Mac – n – cheese ~ Classic dish offered on the kid’s menu.
3} Chili Mac ~ Buffalo chili over macaroni noodles topped with cheese and sour cream.


The tank was running on empty so we stopped for some - Just kidding. With the obvious joke out of the way, let’s get down to some serious critiquing.

As a reformed vegetarian, I am always impressed with restaurants that give vegetarian options. Going out to eat as a vegetarian was sometimes downright difficult. Well, it just became less difficult here in Memphis. The new restaurant Fuel Café offers many organic, vegetarian, and even vegan options on its menu.

That being said, we ordered the Café salad, buffalo chili mac, the vegetarian meat loaf, the mac and cheese, and the organic “grass fed” steak. We were quickly served some of the most amazing fresh bread with garlic butter. The café salad came out soon there after and was promptly picked over by Atticus (as evidenced by the blurred hand in the photo). I never did get to try those candied pecans, though they looked incredible.

The serving of buffalo chili mac was huge. It made for a nice lunch the next day. I can’t speak for my brother’s steak other than that he didn’t share, and it was gone before any of us had a chance to ask for a taste. Atticus got some of the best Mac and cheese I have ever tasted. Everyone at the table had a taste and was awed by his cheesy plate of heaven.

We will definitely be heading back to Fuel for a refill. (Sorry, it had to be done.) We do look forward to trying many other “options” on their menu.

Fuel Café

{Located in the former Petra restaurant space}
1761 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
ph +1.901.730.1916
Open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Note: They currently don't serve alcohol but allow you to bring your own wine.

Thanks Christopher. Photos by Sophorn.

Fuel Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 19, 2010

Habitat for Hope Brochure Design Sneak Peek

Habitat for Hope needed a marketing brochure to establish an introduction to who they are and what they do. I decided to concentrate on the word "hope" which is such a powerful word in their identity and use the brochure format to reveal the tie between "hope" and Habitat for Hope as it unfolds. I also wanted to emphasize the organic and sustainable nature of the place and place the word "hope" on an abstract blade of grass stemming from the HFH logo itself. I also chose a brown color scheme to compliment the HFH logo color - green, used as the highlighting color. The front cover and unfolded front and back which shows the continuation of the logo are pictured above. The brochure itself is legal size {8.5 x 14} folded twice, also called the double parallel fold. The paper will be a recycled matte finish that works well with the message.

The next step in the unfolding is shown below. The green "blade" has grown to reveal a question, "Where can you find Hope?" The photo in the background is a child and parent, helped by HFH, holding hands, an image that partly answers the question posed.

Then, the answer is revealed in the final unfolding, "Hope is here." with more detailed information on HFH. There is just one photo that anchors the whole layout. This photo was the start to the brochure, illustrating best that hope exists and is growing, and more importantly the families and kids find hope in the support network that Habitat for Hope provides.

Below are the two options for the brochure back, first as a hand-out and second as a mailer. Just for reference, the last image is the back of the brochure printed before it is folded.

Images courtesy of Habitat for Hope. Graphics by Sophorn McRae, Formus Architects.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lanvin Spring 2010 Collection

Just by chance, as I referenced yesterday's photography as inspiration for fashion, I also wanted to see the latest collection from Lanvin, a favorite designer I started following last year. How can it be that his work has channeled the spirit of the Medicina Rossa {pictured on the left} down to its color? Amazing. Lanvin just captures the flow of the fabric so well. See more of my favorites from his Spring 2010 collection below.

Photos of Lanvin from Elle Magazine. / Photo of Medicina Rossa photo series from Behance.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Medicina Rossa: Painting in Water

"These are simple photographs of varnish into a 'fish bowl', this is not 3D." Alberto explains since his work is mainly digital art. My first impression was that this was beautifully twisted fabric. Indeed it could still be inspiration for fashion or a sculptural art. I find it just mesmerizing. Click here to see more images.

Friday, February 12, 2010

flickr fave ~ kiss

Have a great {valentine's} weekend everyone. Hope you spend it with someone you love and that you remember the quote above not only this weekend but always. Kiss & make-up sums it up.

The photo is from my new favorite photographer who happens to be Memphian Amanda/flickr member oh it's amanda. She documents Memphis beautifully. Click here to see her flickr site and here to visit her "Amanda loves" project: 365 Days of Admiration.

Love Stationery

Valentine's day is never just a couple's holiday to us. We always make sure our nieces, nephews, parents, and grandparents get appreciated as well. With my recent purchase of a die cut machine and since our printer wasn't functioning at the moment, I experimented with creating text cut outs and colored backgrounds. The photos above show the mini posters with a message from Atticus to his Grandma and Grammy. When we came up with the rhyme, I realized there was a Soulja boy song with similar words in the lyrics. I trust Grandma and Grammy won't relate the two so that they will surely take it as a sweet tender message.

The two ideas below uses a sticker label. With the envelope, the label functions as the seal. When the printer is back up I would look at adding some color or pattern to the label as well. To the ladies in the family, you will hopefully get your cards and sweets from Atticus by Valentine's day. xoxo

Click here to see another experiment I've done before with sewing the envelope in my "love" series.
Photos by sophorn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kid Friendly Gourmet

After deciding that the crème brulee trio would be centerpiece of the Valentine’s dinner menu, I decided to keep the French theme when looking for ideas for the other dishes. The challenge would be that most of the items would need to be Atticus-friendly. He loves chicken, bread, cheese, and fruit like most kids, so those ingredients plus great flavor would be a real pleaser. I also received some good suggestions from friends and found good resources that I’ll use anytime I need to plan a dinner. {Click dish name for recipe links.} Here’s how my menu is shaping up. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.

1} Perfect French Bread - Toasted
2} Brie Cheese drizzled with honey and almonds or
Sole Memphis recipe

I can’t wait!
Photos from related menu links.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My 3 Year Old ~ A Born Romantic

I often tell people that Atticus, my 3 year old, is a very sweet kid, and he is charming even when you first meet him but it’s hard to really understand how truly sweet he is without being around him. I compiled a list of examples that describe his personality traits with its related display of kindness. I also wonder if they could translate into ideas for being romantic to your someone special. Oh, he is still young and good to his mommy so I’m relishing the moment yet hoping this isn’t a phase and his loving continues. See the list below. It’s a bit of a tribute to him in sharing how much I appreciate him.

1} Observant ~ He noticed that the mom of his daycare friend Hannah did something different with her hair and asked, “Did you get a haircut?” She was so flattered.

2} Polite ~ When I say I need to leave the room, he opens the door for me when he is next to it.

3} Attentive ~ He is enamored by his baby cousin Lib. He sat next to her and watched her while she was eating and asked, “Do you need to drink some water?” as he hands her the cup.

4} Concerned + Caring ~ Just out of the blue, likes to ask “Are you happy?” When I say yes, he says, “Good. I’m happy too.”

5} Affectionate + “Passionate” ~ He loves kisses, hugs, and snuggling. When we kiss and somehow the lips don’t meet just right, he says, “Let’s try that again” and makes sure he gets it right the second time. Also, since he was around a year and a half, he started doing a “passionate” kiss where he puts his hands around my neck, stares into my eyes for a moment, then pulls me in for the kiss. Don’t know where he learned that from but he has it down perfect like a confident gentleman.

6} Generous ~ He often shares his food and lets me eat his last piece even if it’s a piece of his favorite candy or sweet. He also insists on feeding the piece to me.

7} Selfless ~ He lets me watch AND watches chick flicks with me. He calls them “mommy’s movies” and often replies when I put it in, “Yes, you can watch it if you want.”

8} Soft-hearted ~ He cries during sad scenes in movies. The best example was during “Where the Wild Things Are” when Max is going home and says good bye to the monsters. He says his favorite part in the movie is when he finally gets home and sees his mom.

9} Complimentary ~ “Mommy, you look pretty.” “ I like your dress.” I always wonder whether he’s trying to flatter me for a piece of candy but he has never asked for anything.

10} Creative + Resourceful + Thoughtful ~ As shown in the photo above, he placed all his popsicle makers together and ran to me with arms extended. “Mommy, I have ‘flowers’ for you.” My heart exploded.

Atticus really is a true sweetheart, and that is why we’re not leaving him out of our Valentine’s dinner this year.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Creme Brulee Trio ~ Sole Memphis Recipe

Valentine’s Day is just a week away, and I’ve only picked out the dessert recipe for the at-home gourmet dinner I’ll make for my two special men, Atticus and Christopher. Actually, they probably won’t even care what else is for dinner with this dessert. A classic vanilla crème brulee is probably my favorite dessert but Chef Matthew Crone of Sole Restaurant in Memphis takes it up a notch in a crème brulee trio that serves the classic vanilla along with rich chocolate and blueberry versions.

I spent some time with Chef Matthew in the kitchen to document the process and get a lesson on preparing crème brulee for the first time. He was kind enough to share the recipe that you can make at home too.

Crème Brulee Trio

Ingredients ~ Total

3 1/2 quarts of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup of vanilla extract
20 egg yolk
8 eggs
3 cups of sugar

Ingredients ~ Chocolate Brulee

2 whole eggs
6 egg yolk
1 cup of sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup of chocolate
Desired amount of chocolate shavings for topping


1. Bring cream to just about a simmer
2. Take cream off the heat and add chocolate and whisk vigorously
3. Let the cream sit while cracking the eggs and put the sugar in to a bowl
4. Whisk the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar
5. Strain the chocolate Brulee mix through a fine mesh china cap
6. Put a selected amount of ramekins in a shallow hotel pan and fill the pan 1/4th of the way with water
7. Wrap the hotel pan with aluminum foil and bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes
8. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
9. When ready to serve, sprinkle a generous coating of sugar on top.
10. Rapidly move torch flame over sugar to melt. { It will be a golden brown color for the vanilla or blueberry version as shown in the second photo below.} For safety, especially if you have not used the torch before, place the brulee on a flat surface when melting the sugar. Make sure not to burn the sugar.

{Vanilla/blueberry recipe continued below.}

Ingredients ~ Vanilla Brulee / Blueberry Brulee

14 to 16 egg yolk
6 eggs whole
2 cups of sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup of vanilla extract
21/2 heavy cream


1. Split the vanilla bean into the cream and add the 1/2 cup of vanilla extract
2. Bring the cream to a simmer
3. While cream is coming to a simmer crack the eggs and put the sugar into a bowl
4. Gradually whisk the cream into the eggs and sugar
5. Strain the vanilla Brulee mix through a fine mesh china cap
6. Put a select amount of ramekins in a shallow hotel pan and fill it up 1/4th of the way with water
7. Cover the hotel pan with aluminum foil and bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes
8. Repeat step 9 & 10 above.

Note: For blueberry brulee stir fresh blueberry into ramekin before baking off custard. Fresh blueberries also top this version. In the photo, the vanilla brulee is topped with an amaretto cookie.

Another item you may need to purchase is the crème brulee torch {also called the culinary or cooking torch}. You may purchase it online, at Target, or local chef/kitchen supply sotre. In Memphis, you can find it at Lit, downtown Union Ave near the ballpark. Lit offers the torch for $29.99 and set of four ramekins for $9.99. I actually like Sole’s idea of small coffee mugs pictured above if that’s what you already have.

Chef Matthew also suggested experimentation with added ingredients such as other fruits and berries and even mentioned an advanced avocado version of the recipe. For now, I think we’ll stick to his original trio. Based on the last photo, which one do you think Christopher will taste first?

Note: They are open for Valentine’s Day but will probably not serve the dessert that night. Make sure to try it another night if you would rather sample the original creations before creating your own.

Bon appétit.

SOLE restaurant and raw bar
At the Westin Hotel across from the FedEx Forum
221 South Third Street
Memphis, TN 38103
ph +1.901.334.5950
f +1.901.334.5959
Website and Menu
On Twitter

Special thanks to Chef Matthew Crone.
Photos by Sophorn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Idea Notebook: Not Your Ordinary Flat Ceiling

This is a great example of interior architecture when the space and atmosphere is created by more than just paint, fabrics, and furniture. Interior designer Pablo Tellez considered the effect of lighting when designing the ceiling in a restaurant in Barcelona. Can you believe that this is a fast food pizza restaurant? Read more here at Yatzer, my new favorite design source.

Found and images via Graphic Exchange. / Photos by Juan Ventura.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brochure and Print Design Inspiration

All the ideas above are inspirational in layout but also in its unfolding, which is very important in understanding and designing what is revealed and presented at each step. These ideas are ones I am looking to carry into my design for the Habitat for Hope brochure and booklets.

1 -3} A standard brochure size can be taken one more fold further to create a stand-out custom size. / Commune Inc.
4-5} Visually the standard brochure size is broken down with the use and placement of white space. / Commune Inc.
6} Similar to 1-3 with one cut involved. / Darren Firth.
7-9} The dark block to emphasize the title text works well. There is one option shown where the final unfolded mailer is vertical rather than the typical horizontal. / Mocatishu


Each example below has a bold and clean layout. The key to visual impact is the strength of the photography and the illustration. Use of color is either non-present or kept to at least 2 tones. /Designers respectively 1} MartinoJanaDesign / 2-3} Roman Krikheli / 4} eighthourday / 5-6} Eug3nio Ortega / 7} Hofstede Design / 8} Michael Freimuth

Images found via Graphic Exchange.
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