Monday, December 31, 2012


To all a very Happy New Year!!
Cheers to a positive, abundant and promising year!
Wishing you all the very best in 2013!
~Tara and John McGowan
Art Tree Designs


Thursday, December 20, 2012


Spoonflower's contest this week is the Snowflakes Contest.  I think it is pretty appropriate considering all of the winter weather in places around the world.  There is no snow but it is cold down here in Texas.  Keep warm and safe everyone, and if you get to build a snowman I think you are so lucky!  I want to build a snowman doing a headstand that I saw here on Pinterest.  I just think it's too cool!  

My design is called Orange Blizzard.  If you would like to vote in the contest this week please click here.  You do not have to be a member to vote and you can vote for as many as you like.  Voting begins on Thursday, December 20th and best to get your vote in by Monday, December 24th.  Voting officially ends on Wednesday, December 26th and winners will be announced on January 3rd. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts of Newtown

I'm a big fan of the Delilah radio show.  I find her voice to be very soothing, and I love her personality.  Yesterday I received one of her emails that she sends out to all of her followers.  Her words brought comfort at a much needed time since Friday.  She shared a link for all those who are wanting to reach out to the Newtown community.  There are so many wonderful sites to send donations to plus a site where you can send messages to the family members that they will receive at a later date.  You can find that information by clicking here.     

There hasn't been a day or an hour that has gone by that the Sandy Hook Elementary have not been in my thoughts.  My heart has felt heavier since that day but the thought of doing some good either for the victims in this town or for my own home or community makes my time on Earth feel a little more bearable.  To be able to do something or say something to help with the healing is right now the most important gift on my list.

I debated talking about this on my blog because it's just such pure heartache, but yesterday when I received Delilah's email it just felt like the right thing to do.  To at least share the link so that others feeling the same pain I do can know how to reach out if they didn't know before.  I know that since Friday time was in slow motion for me.  I didn't get frustrated with the toys on my floor or the messes in my house.  Instead I hugged my children tighter than normal and I took longer looks.  Much longer looks. 

I wrote a poem about two years ago.  It just kind of fits how I'm feeling in my heart right now and I wanted to share this poem with you all.  It's titled Toys on the Floor.

Toys on the Floor
By Tara McGowan
There are toys on the floor that need to be picked up!!!
I painfully step on
Legos, Little People and Polly Pockets,
Transformers, tractors and dinosaurs.
It’s moments like these
I wish I was on the sea shore.
These toys scattered everywhere
can make me feel crazy.
Under my breath I mumble,
“Toys go in the toy box.  Kids don’t be so lazy!”

Each stage of their childhood we've pretty much kept it all,
from teething toys to Candyland and little bouncy balls.
We have pictures taken on birthdays and Christmas.
Each child playing with their brand new toy.
You can see it on their little faces
all of their excitement and joy.
As I lay my children down to sleep I can see their love of a bear.
Their arm wrapped tightly around it sound asleep without a care.
Thoughts of them taking their dolly wherever they go.
Having tea parties or picnics or watching a show.
These toys on the floor won't be here forever I know.
My children will not be little much longer it's so.
Like their tiny hand prints on my windows before I wipe them away,
take hold of the time you have them and get to watch them play.
I look down at the floor and smile at what lies before me.
Each day I have left is a sweet gift I've been given.
It's these toys on the floor that remind me
I am blessed to have children.
My sister and I discussed yesterday about family and their normal routine.  Getting kids out of bed, dressed and fed and off to school.  The rush and hustle and bustle of early morning.  Wondering that the people in Newtown's morning was no doubt the same as everyone else getting their kids off to school and getting to work or meetings on time.  Thinking of those parents did they get a hug in or a kiss goodbye.  Hoping they aren't beating themselves up if they didn't because you know they did so many times before. 

It was heart wrenching and comforting to read of one of the boys, who's life was taken so early, that his morning was spent playing foosball and jingle bells on the piano with his family.  Another child's morning was spent having breakfast at the family's favorite deli.  What a great way to start the day with a child.  What a wonderful memory they can hold as dear as the pictures in their albums since the day of their births.  We don't know what the future holds for us and some say when it's my time it's my time.  I agree with that and remind myself over and over to not get upset over these little things like these toys on the floor.  To have more patience to give 100% of my time to a child when they need it from me at that moment even if that moment isn't the best time for me.  Because the truth is that moment is and always will be the very best moment it could possibly ever be. 

A moment before bed with my three.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree how lovely are your branches!  Here is our Christmas tree this year decorated by the girls, myself and my son who had more fun taking the ornaments down and gifting them to his Grandmother.  It was funny really.  The girls would be busy decorating and my 13 month old son would sneak over and take them down and feel great joy giving them to his Grandma.  

I remember one year when the girls were smaller I let them decorate the tree all by themselves without any help from me and all of the ornaments were on one spot on the very bottom of the tree.  They were so proud of their decorating.  I just couldn't bring myself to change a thing about it.  It made me smile it made me think as they get older we'll see the ornaments get placed higher and higher upon the tree but for that Christmas it was just a nice reminder of how little they are.  How I wish I could bottle it all up.  Christmas memories are pure treasures.  This year the girls decorated about 3/4 of the tree and at times getting up on their very tippy toes.  I helped with the very top and we did our best to keep the boy from gifting them to others. :-) 

I adore ornaments.  I adore them because they all have a story.  Some are so old and hold such great memories and some have dates to remind us of a special time or of a special someone.  I have ornaments for the year of all my children's births, one that I got as a present the year my husband and I got married, ornaments with family pictures, and homemade ornaments which are my most absolute favorite.  I love how collections of ornaments are different in every single home making the tree even that much more special.

I went on a search online for ornaments that I would love to have or ones that just caught my eye because they felt special to me.  Here are some that I found on my little ornament search.

Oh my word!  Do you remember these?  These bubble lights were my most favorite on my parents' and my grandparents' Christmas trees.  Oh I have always loved these lights!
I also wanted to share that for the first time this year I have designed a few Christmas ornaments that are for sale at my shop at Zazzle.


When we decorate our tree we have all of the favorite Christmas music playing in the background.  Christmas just isn't Christmas without Nat King Cole, and my newest Christmas music must have is Michael BublĂ©.
Happy decorating everyone!  Have fun creating new memories as you hang your precious ornaments upon the tree!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Quilt

This is a Christmas quilt my Mother made for our family last year.  I love it so much that I thought I would share it with you all.  I'm proud to say that my Mother is a very talented quilter.  If you look closely the quilting design all over the quilt is poinsettias.  You can really see one pop right above Santa's head.  When I was gifted with this quilt I had just had my first son who was two months old at the time, so it was really special to receive a quilt featuring a sweet little boy with Santa Claus.  I love the vintage feel it has, and I am very fond of all of the colors in this quilt.

Then she made us two very large stockings to decorate our house for Christmas.  I love the old fashioned looking Santa Claus, and my son is just now starting to dig Thomas the Train.

These are very large stockings about 30 inches long and 14 inches wide.  Sure would love for Santa to fill these up this Christmas!  :-)  She purchased the kits to make these from Jo-Ann Fabrics last year.  They look so sweet hanging on the walls in our dining room.  We sure are lucky to have a quilter in the family.  Something we treasure very much!
I was looking around on Amazon for other stockings.  I have mentioned before in posts how much I love snowmen.  Here is a smaller stocking that I found online that I think is absolutely adorable.
Decorating for the holidays is so much fun!! 

Kid in a Candy Shop

This week's contest at Spoonflower will give you a sugar high! :-)  It's a great contest for all those who have a sweet tooth.   For this week it is the Sweets Contest and here is my design entry. 

I've titled it Kid in a Candy Shop.  My kids love those cake pops.  It's the new craze!  Thought I'd throw some of those in the design and gussy up the gummy bears which are also another favorite in our house.   One of my favorite sayings has always been, "I feel like a kid in a candy shop."

If you would like to vote in the Sweets Contest please click here.  You do not have to be a member to vote and you can vote for as many as you like.  Voting begins Thursday, December 13th and best to get your vote in by Monday, December 17th.    

This pillow is currently for sale at my shop at Society6.  If you would like to check out all of my pillows for sale please click here.

Here are also a few items for sale at my Zazzle shop featuring the Kid in a Candy Shop design.

This is perfect for all the candy you are now craving. :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Snowman

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is one of our family favorites.  The music coupled with the animation give me good chills every time.  This is one of our must see holiday shows every year.   

The book is also delightful with all of the beautiful illustrations.  It is amazing how magical this story is and there are absolutely no words!

Jingle All the Way

Jingle All the Way by Tom Shay-Zapien is such a sweet book for the holidays.  This adorable pup responds as you read the storybook.  A couple of years ago we got this as a Christmas present and it's a favorite for us to pull out for the holidays.  I absolutely love the illustrations which are little toy models that they created and then photographed.  I can't tell you how much I want to try this for one of my own children's books.  It brings it all to life in such a special way.  Jingle All the Way is about a little stray pup who is a good dog.  You'll fall in love with him too.  How can you not with this little cute husky pup staring back at you?  Check it out when you have a chance!  Reading the story Jingle All the Way with Jingle the pup is now part of of our family Christmas tradition.  Sometimes he sneaks his way into our reading time throughout the year too.  We just miss him too much to have to wait a whole entire year!  Jingle makes us very, very happy.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Art Tree Designs has finally made it to Facebookland.  Took me forever!  Now to tackle and understand Twitterland.  Give me about a month! :-)  For now we've got Facebook up and running and I will be posting posts from the blog, new sales going on at our shops at Zazzle and Society6, and pretty much anything that has to do with Spoonflower including the newest designs that we create.  When I get up to 30 Likes there will be a drawing for a prize and the prize is something that I have designed.  Come join us in Facebookland!!!

Click here at Art Tree Designs Facebook Page!  Click Like and enter for a chance to win a great prize!  I promise you will not be spammed!  You'll just get a sweet gift designed by me and that's it!  Promise...promise!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Cookies

Every Christmas my Grandmother loved to make cookies called Sandies from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  We always liked to call them Ladies' Fingers.  I still remember the year she taught me how to make them with her in her baby blue kitchen. My mother and I continue to carry on the tradition of making the Sandies every Christmas and every Christmas Santa Claus makes out big time. 

This cookie plate you see here is a mix of homemade cookies and store bought cookies, plus a few Hershey Kisses and chocolate Santas in the center.  You can click on the different cookies for either the recipe or the store where we found some of these sweet goodies.

The holiday mug featured in the Christmas cookies picture is one of my many designs for sale at our Zazzle shop.  I'm thrilled with the great quality of mugs that Zazzle has to offer.  If you would like to check out the many different mugs for sale at our Zazzle shop please click here.  They are perfect for coffee, tea, hot chocolate or milk for the big guy dressed in red!
I love the holidays and all of the different cookies that they bring!  Do you have a traditional holiday cookie that you make for your family every year?  If so please share with us. We'd love to try a new recipe and to read your story of where your traditional Christmas cookie came from.
Happy Holidays Everyone!  

Christmas Birdies Gift Tags & Ornaments

Spoonflower is having a Gift Tag Contest this week.  For this contest I decided these quirky Christmas Birdies would make for fun gift tags and ornaments for the tree.  You can use any of the matching coordinates in the Christmas Birdies Collection for the backside of the ornament or find material that matches, stuff in some batting, sew up the sides and then sew a ribbon at the top to use to hang upon the tree.  They would make cute and very affordable secret Santa gifts! Hint...hint! 

If you would like to see the entire Christmas Birdies Collection please click here.  Within the collection I have a few snowflakes fabrics to choose from, some fun designs with the entire cast of characters and a cheater quilt.  Here is one of the designs that is part of this collection.

Also check out my Zazzle shop where you will find tons of items for sale with the Christmas Birdies designs.  Here are just a few of the items at my shop!

 At my Society6 shop there are art prints and throw pillows with the Christmas Birdies designs on them too.  Here are just a few of the throw pillows for sale at Society6

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out these wacky characters.  Hope they brought you a little Christmas cheer!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's A Full Moon Tonight

This week it was brought to my attention that a very talented designer at Spoonflower has created an adorable pillowcase with a fabric design that I created called Little Toy Airplanes.  The design was inspired by a book that John and I created together called It's A Full Moon Tonight.  Anniedeb is the designer who made the pillowcase and purchased the book to go together for a Christmas gift for her grandson.  On the front of the pillowcase Anniedeb used the Little Toy Airplanes material and on the other side used one of her grandson's baby blankets.  It is pure preciousness.  The picture you see here is a magical looking display that Anniedeb created to showcase the pillowcase and book together. 

I am so thrilled to see the fabric and the book come together in this very special way.  It is so creative, sweet and fun.  Be sure to check out Anniedeb's shop at Spoonflower!  She is an incredible artist, designer and photographer.  Anniedeb is definitely one of my favorite designers at Spoonflower.  So many of her designs I love, and the newest one I love is titled Scrambled Chicken.  You've got to see it.  It's a hoot!  You can also check out Anniedeb's blog called Summersgaze with a post about creating the pillowcase by clicking here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Under the Sea

Spoonflower has partnered with Storey Publishing for the Under the Sea One Yard Wonders Contest.  Our assignment was to design a nautically inspired fabric design and then place that on a Riviera Tee.  The winner will have her or his design featured in the newest in Storey's best selling One-Yard Wonders series:  the upcoming 101 Little One-Yard Wonders.  It's a very exciting contest! 

The design that I have entered into the contest is a collaborative work of art created by myself and one of my talented young students in fabric design.  Together she and I created Little Fishies Under the Sea.  What I love most about this piece is that this contest is geared towards children and this design most certainly has a young person's touch.  I love the different expressions and personalities of the fishies.  They are just so cute swimming along doing their thing.  When I placed everything together to be created into a tee I also admired the fact that the rows of fish look like stripes and the seaweed looks like ribbon.  Plus I think the colors are vibrant and fun.  So here it is Art Tree Designs entry for this week's Spoonflower contest.

If you would like us to make this design available for purchase please contact us at, and we'll be happy to make it available as soon as possible.  This design would certainly make a fabulously fun t-shirt for any young child!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Captain Pajamas Defender of the Universe!

Have you ever seen the book Captain Pajamas Defender of the Universe?!  My mother found this book for my oldest daughter two years ago and gave it to her for Christmas.  The book is by Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith.  It is really funny.  Every time I read this book to the kids I of course have to use my best superhero voice.  The girls especially love the dog Shadow and all of his shenanigans.  This book inspired my daughter so much so that I caught her doing this and of course had to run and go grab the camera.  Moments like these should most definitely be captured, I mean after all, our very own Captain Pajamas Defender of the Universe was in the house!

All inspired by this great book!