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!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Tips For Taking Kiddo Photos

Three years ago I started taking professional looking photographs of my own children for a few reasons really.  I knew I had a passion for it, and I knew it was something I had an eye for.  It was a creative outlet for me and in the long run it was going to save us some money doing it at home.  Plus I thought it would be so much fun to turn this into a business where I could take pictures for family members, friends, neighbors, word of mouth kind of thing and keep it affordable for everyone else as well. 

I was researching everything I could find to do the photos the way I felt most comfortable with doing them.  It turned out that I found out my style is very contemporary.  I'm fine with that.  I love natural smiles, natural moments, kids being themselves and most of all capturing a moment in time that I can look back on and go that's the part of my child I remember most.  That gleam in their eye and that little mischievous grin on their face.  I even like it when they don't smile.  In fact I encourage them sometimes to not smile during the photo shoot which almost always in turn gets them to smile and burst into giggly laughter.  I have learned tricks to make my photos work almost every time...almost.  Tricks that I will most definitely share with you in this post and future posts to come.

First let's start with equipment since that's really the essential part here in making professional looking photographs at home.  It helps to have a good quality camera.  I started practicing with my Sony.  I love window light.  Love it.  These first few pics of my girls were taken with my Sony camera.  They are standing looking out through the windows of our home.  I do not have my flash on and only used the outside light that streamed in through the window.  Take notice of the windows in your home and what time it is the light really shines through most vividly.  Natural light is my most favorite and best part is it's free!!  You can't beat that.

The equipment I use today is a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with a flash, lensGiottos tripod, trigger, battery charger (always have backup batteries always), Canon filter uv haze, sd cards, and a camera case.  The links I have provided here for you will take you to all the exact individual pieces of equipment that I currently use for my photography.  Other things I like to use is a white fluffy bath mat, poster board with white on one side and aluminum foil glued onto the other side for my reflectors, white foam board for my reflectors or background, and the tickle monster who only comes out for photo time otherwise kids aren't impressed one bit with Mr. Tickle Monster.  He must shine in his cameos and then be hidden away in the closet until next time.

Mr. Tickle Monster
and yes he is a feather duster with googly eyes.

The book that helped teach me so many of my tricks, and that I continue to look at to this day is called The Art of Children's Portrait Photography by Tamara Lackey.  She is wonderful!  She shares with you in this very insightful book her tips along with her own experiences as a child photographer.  Get this book if you are at all interested in taking pictures of your own children and or other people's children as well.  I found this book to be inspirational and helpful in finding the photographer inside of me.

Here are my most recent pictures of my son as a little pumpkin head.  I took these photos in my bedroom where I have an entire wall of just window.  Perfect for that natural light that I love plus I used my flash.  I set up a little festive fall pumpkin scene on my bed with a couple yards of white kona cotton, a white bath mat, large and small pumpkins, artificial fall leaves, and a super cute child's pumpkin hat I found on sale at Gymboree.  Always keep your eye out for cute kids stuff on sale that would one day look adorable for photos. 



If you have an assistant to help you that's even better.  For this photo shoot my six year old entertained my son with Mr. Tickle Monster.  Take as many pictures as you and child can stand. 

This little frowny face let me know that 
it was time to shut down the camera!

Photoshop is another topic of which I'd be happy to share in more detail in future posts.  But I will say that what we use is Adobe Photoshop CS5 for right now.  Our next step up is Adobe Photoshop CS6.  I am constantly on YouTube searching for tutorials for my designs and photography to learn even more about photoshop and all that you can do.  We like to keep it real.  Plastic painted faces do not appeal to us but to each his own.  Photoshop is certainly great to clean up images and get great special effects.

There will be more photography posts by me in the future because this is very much my passion, and I'm learning new things all of the time that I would love to share with you all.  You can follow me on Pinterest at  where I have a board called Kiddo Photos.  Here I search for fabulous photos that catch my eye that I would like to one day reenact with my own kids or other people's children.  I know that my photos will be different, and that's good I want that, but it does help me to find pictures that inspire me and give me ideas for portraits with my own family.

With that said good luck with your own adventures in photography and if you have any questions or comments about the information that I have shared in this post please contact me at  I'd be happy to hear from you!  Go have fun taking pictures of your little loved ones, and remember if it isn't fun then you are not doing something right.  The entire experience should just be fun for all including you! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Quirky Birdies

Yay!  The holidays are here!  This holiday season I would like to introduce to you all a very quirky group of little birdies.  These festive Christmas birdies are here to bring a little extra holiday cheer and can be found on fabric at my Spoonflower shop and on many different items for sale at my shops at Zazzle and Society6.

Super cute and perfect to bring holiday cheer to any living space!

This is sure to make you feel cheerier in the morning
with your first cup of joe. :-)

How often do you get to see a bird wearing antlers on their head. 
I mean really? :-) 

I see this style of hat everywhere.  In fact I also own a similar winter hat and pretty sure I look just as goofy! :-)

Quilts make such special gifts and this cheater quilt
would brighten any home for the holidays!  Christmas is almost here and cheater quilts are so easy and super fast to make I've been told! :-)

fabric design at Spoonflower.

Be the life of the party!  Why not? :-)

So sweet for the little ones!

Haven't gotten your Christmas cards yet this year?!  Look no further!  These quirky birdies would love to be mail delivered to your loved ones!

Christmas Birdies Throw Pillow

Also check out my Society6 shop!  I have this cute throw pillow with the Christmas Birdies design size 16" x 16" that includes pillow and insert for only $27.00!!  While you are there check out all the Christmas Birdie designs that I have currently for sale as art prints and throw pillows. 
To see more fabulous items featuring these festive quirky Christmas birdies please visit my shop at Zazzle and
to see more of the Christmas birdies fabric collection please visit my shop at Spoonflower.

I am so happy it's the holidays and so very happy to finally get these wacky cast of characters out of my head and into the world.    
Hope they brought a little smile to your face this holiday season!  I'm just sure there is a children's book here somewhere.  Stay tuned I might just be crazy enough to put something together before Christmas is here. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pretzel Kisses

Pretzel Kisses
Found this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it!  This tasty little treat did not disappoint!!  I also thought why wait until Christmas to make these, so as I was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade I created this pretty little batch you see here.  They turned out so cute looking that I bagged some of them up and gave them to our friends when we showed up for Thanksgiving dinner.  They are festive, tasty and super easy to make.
My friend gave me the heads up that for 1 bag of pretzels get 2 bags of Hershey Kisses and 1 bag of Christmas colors green and red M&M's.  I sent my husband to the store to get the bags of goodies.  I was actually wanting the round pretzels with a hole in the center but our store only had the square shaped pretzels and those worked great too.
Here are the super easy directions:
Bag of pretzels (whatever your store has square or round)
2 bags of Hershey Kisses
1 bag of holiday red and green M&M's
Cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Spread the pretzels on the cookie sheet to lie flat.  Put an unwrapped Hershey Kiss on top of each pretzel.  Put in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes and do not walk away.  You just need to give it enough time to slightly melt at 4 minutes tops depending on your oven.  Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and place on a cooling rack and gently push an M&M down in the center of each Hershey Kiss so that the chocolate touches all the edges of the pretzels.  Let cool on the cookie sheet.  I put ours in the refrigerator to speed up the process after it cooled a bit on the cookie sheet.  Then I ate some, got them kid approved and then bagged them up for our friends to enjoy.
Easy, great and cute to add to your cookie tray this holiday season!  Thank you Pinterest for once again not failing me!! 
Check out this great blog where I found this sweet treat recipe!
Follow me at Pinterest at!
Love me some Pinterest!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Matisse Contest at Spoonflower

I love Henri Matisse's artwork.  When I was in college for my senior jury I did a one woman monologue called Darleen Dances by Betsy Robinson, and for that piece found inspiration in the artwork of Matisse's painting called The Dance.  It has always been a favorite of mine.  There is so much movement in his style and vivid colors that to me it's mesmerizing. 

For this week's contest Spoonflower is partnering with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.  They have asked us to design textiles that would look at home in a Matisse painting.   The top ten designs will be featured at a First Thursday and Art for All events at the Nasher Museum on Thursday, December 6, 2012.  We were also given a specified color palette.  Here is my design for the contest.

In my own interpretation of Matisse's style I chose to create movement through dancing stars, flying birds and falling petals.  Thus came the title for this design She Loves Me She Loves Me Not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skippyjon Jones Fever

We've got the Skippyjon Jones fever you?  Skippyjon Jones is a funny imaginative cat who believes he is a chihuahua.  That idea alone is funny enough but wait until you go page by page reciting the tongue twisting rhymes and the clap...clap...claps!  It is humorous and clever and most of all fun.  We need fun in books don't we?  There is so much detail in the illustrations that you find yourself spending extra quality reading time with your kids just taking it all in. 

Here are a few of our favorite Skippyjon Jones books and a few of our furry favorite plush toy friends to go along with it.  This is one fever we don't want a cure for! 

Plush Toys
Check out these and other great Skippyjon Jones books by Judy Schachner!  It's great entertainment for reading time with the entire family and it is also no surprise that Skippyjon Jones is #1 New York Times Bestseller!  We've got the fever! :-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chili & Cinnamon Rolls

There is just something so special about the combination of chili and cinnamon rolls together.  My entire hometown looked forward to that incredible combo of chili and cinnamon rolls served in the school cafeteria for dinner right before the big homecoming game. 

Now I've moved to another state, another town, but have carried on the tradition of chili and cinnamon rolls in my home.  Usually I make it our tradition to have it for dinner on Halloween before the trick or treating begins, but this year my daughter fell ill and so Grandma's homemade chicken noodle soup took its place.  I'll be sure to share that fabulous healing recipe in a future post, but right now I just want to talk chili and cinnamon rolls. 

When my husband met me he thought I was crazy to put chili and cinnamon rolls together on the table.  Now he can't enjoy chili any other way!  Our way of doing it is we don't wait to finish the chili before having the cinnamon roll.  Oh no!  Oh no, no, no!  You take a bite of chili, you take a bite of cinnamon roll, you take a bite of get it?  There is no eat your dinner first before dessert.  That rule doesn't apply here! 

So for this post I wanted to share a great family chili and cinnamon roll recipe with you all.  This chili recipe comes from my Grandfather's church.  To those who have experienced and enjoyed the bliss of this combo then you know exactly what I am talking about here, and to those who have never tried it before I encourage you to do so because I truly believe you will never look back!  You may even add this to your list of fun fall family traditions.

The Pastor Wife’s Chili

This is a perfect basic mild chili recipe.

1 lb of ground round or ground sirloin

1 – 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

2 –  16 ounce cans of mild chili beans

2 Cups of water

1 Bay Leaf

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of Chili Powder

Fry the meat with salt and pepper stirring until cooked, drain the fat.  Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and simmer on the stove slightly covered until the chili thickens.  After it cooks, remember to remove the Bay Leaf.  

The Pastor’s wife made this chili simple so everyone would like it.  She would set out bowls of cheddar cheese, sliced fancy onions, sour cream and Fritos.  The chili powder was passed around so everyone who wanted extra spice could add their own. 

You can make this with a crockpotstockpot or a sauce pot whichever you prefer.

Our family favorite cinnamon rolls recipe is in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  Here is a link to the Better Homes and Gardens website to see the recipe we've loved over the years.

I also highly recommend two great cookbooks!

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and Killer Chili:  Savory Recipes from North America's Favorite Chili Restaurants.

Best part of all is the chili always tastes better the second day!  Just warm up the cinnamon rolls, or make a new batch or keep a roll of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls handy!!

For a little extra ambiance add festive music to your chili dinner.  Check out these fabulous cds by Joaquin Rodrigo called  Malagueña: Spanish Guitar Music and Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Fantasía para un Gentilhombre. 
Go and enjoy the taste of fall! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Favorite Fall Book Winner Is....

By Beth Hayden

Every season I will be sharing my most favorite, good to read, you're so much better off after reading it, informative teaching book.  For this fall the favorite is...drum roll please....Pinfluence:  The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest by Beth Hayden!  Holy cow this book is fabo!  Fabo! Fabo!  Hayden has not only made this book chock-full of advice and tips for bloggers, Pinterest users and pretty much anyone who has a computer and has some link to the social media world, but she has made it enjoyable and easy to understand.  I am not computer savvy.  Not one bit!  What takes one person ten seconds to understand, I'm banging my head on the desk ten hours later and that's no joke!!! :-)  She not only guided me through the entire book with ease her words also left me feeling inspired, capable and powerful.  That's a big deal! 

I've never wanted to hug someone so much after reading their book.  I want to hug this lady and just thank her big time, but I suppose an autograph will do just fine.  You can tell when she shares all of her tips and ideas in the book that she is genuinely wanting to help you for the better.  I like people like that, authors like that.  People who know these great things and make efforts to help others with their knowledge and expertise.  So with that said...pick up Pinfluence today.  Not tomorrow, not next week, next month or next it NOW!!!  Thank you Beth Hayden for creating such an informative and delightful book to read!

To learn more about this great book here is the book description at Amazon!
Pinterest, the rapidly growing social networking site that allows users to post and share images and videos on "pinboards" (a collection of “pins,” usually with a common theme), is providing businesses and savvy entrepreneurs with a new platform to market their products and services. And, as with any new platform, learning what works best and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing can be a challenge. Pinfluence is a complete guide to Pinterest marketing that will teach you how to effectively raise awareness for your brand, product, or service, drive traffic from Pinterest to your website, and connect with current and potential customers.

You will learn:

  • How to create a powerful Pinterest profile, your Pinterest brand strategy, set up boards, pin and repin images, and get into conversations in the Pinterest user interface.
  • Pinterest marketing techniques, including great content creation, how to optimize websites and blogs for pinning, and how to start growing your followers.
  • How to integrate Pinterest with other social media tools (including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs) and how to track trends and monitor conversation on Pinterest.
  • Advanced Pinterest marketing techniques, including how to grow your audience, how to use the Pinterest iPhone app, advice for special types of businesses (B2B companies and nonprofits), and how to make your pins and boards “sticky” so they capture public attention and influence people to change their behavior.
  • Pinterest copyright issues

Okay, now keep an eye out for my informative winter read!!  I don't know what it will be yet, but I know it will be awesomely informative! :-)         

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

In our house we LOVE to read the book called The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  It is a favorite among my girls.  My mother who is a very talented quilter made for both of the girls a hungry caterpillar quillow.  How cute is that word...quillow?  For those of you who don't know a quillow is a quilt that turns into a pillow.  Adorable.  I've posted here a few pics of one of the quillows that my mother so graciously made for her granddaughters.

This certainly makes reading time that much more fun and cozy when you add a quilt and a caterpillar plush toy to the mix!
 This is the back of the quillow. Aren't the colors just gorgeous? 
They are so vibrant, and I love the leaf.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fabric Panel

Eric Carle's beautiful illustrations up close.


This is the quilt all folded up into a quillow
Seriously, that word is just too cute.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and
It is such a great and classic story and the quillows
just made reading time that much more special. 
Thanks Grandma! :-)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Holidays Collection

I know!  I know!  It's really early for this.  We just had Halloween and last thing we all want to see is Christmas before Thanksgiving.  But this week's contest at Spoonflower is the Holiday Cocktail Napkin Set Contest.  I'm really excited about this one.  For this contest we were to create a pattern for a set of holiday-themed cocktail napkins.  I really wanted to go for that old fashioned Christmas feel.  I dearly love snowmen, and I designed this happy guy to go smack dab in the middle.  I don't know what it is about them, probably their jolly good looks, but looking at snowmen just makes me feel instantly happy. 

Also if you would like to see the entire collection please click on Happy Holidays.  In the collection I have created table runners and a tablecloth for holiday home decor.  Some of the designs could look really cute as couch pillows to decorate your living room space for the holidays.  Spoonflower is now using our designs to make gift wrap paper along with fabric, wallpaper and wall decals.  If you are interested in any of the designs please contact us and we will make them available for purchase as soon as possible.  Our contact email is

I also have tons of great Christmas items that I have designed for sale at my Zazzle shop.  So if you are running out of time to create something here is a great place to go for fabulous already made items that are unique, and you aren't going to see anywhere else.  I have designed buttons, necklaces, gift cards, kitchen towels, napkins, mousepads, pillows, mugs, shirts, bags and more!   Here are just a few of the fun and festive gifts for sale in my shop!



Here is the link to my zazzle shop featuring all of the products I have designed:
Christmas will be here before we know it.  Now is the perfect time to start thinking about home decor and gifts to create for your loved ones.  Thank you so much for checking out our blog!  A big thank you also to all of our loyal customers at our shops at Zazzle, Spoonflower, Bookemon and Society6.  We appreciate your business so very much! 
Tara and John McGowan-creators of Art Tree Designs

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Superhero Collection

This is our design for the BE MY HERO Contest at Spoonflower.  BE MY HERO is a contest to design a novelty print for boys ages 6-12 that will be manufactured and distributed to fabric stores all over by Timeless Treasures, one of the leading producers of innovative fabrics for the quilting and crafting markets.  Our design for this contest includes superheroes from our comic book coming out this fall 2012 featuring brand new never seen before SUPERHEROES!  Introducing the amazing law-abiding and justice serving SGT. JOHN LAW!  Fighting crimes is his middle's BLASTERONIC...and pouncing bad guys is his game!  Last but not least there is COMMANDER ZYGAR  rescuing damsels in distress and bolting across our skies commanding with honor and saving lives!  Together these three join forces to fight evil.  If you would like to check out the entire Superhero Collection please click here.


You do not have to be a member to vote and you can vote for as many Be My Hero designs as you would like.  The contest begins Thursday, November 1st and best to get your vote in by Monday, November 5th.  If you like our design and would like to join in on the fun we would be so grateful to get your vote!!  Go!  Go!  SUPERHEROES!!!

Also here are two of our superhero shirts for sale at our zazzle shop!