It's the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm running out of pictures to post with my camera broken...but this one fits perfectly for today.

We are all just a bit silly over here: the children are wildly excited about Christmas, and I'm wildly trying to get ready for it!

But things are a bit more calm today. We are snowed in and trapped in a winter wonderland. I don't think it's going to stop snowing until wednesday. I don't even care that my car got stuck today trying to get to my house, and that I had to walk a quarter of a mile to get home...all with a baby in tow. It's the best feeling to walk into a cosy house when the rest of the world is perfectly wintery white!

Well, with Christmas here, I'm going to be blogging quite a bit less. I may pop in here and there, but nothing regular till the new year. But I'll have lots to post about when I get back!

Happy Christmas everyone!  I'm wishing you the best of Christmases....lots of time with your families....and lots of wonderful memories!



**It's too late now to order before Christmas, but don't forget the 2011 Calendars we have in the shop still!

Lots of love.

This week has been awesome. Full. Busy. Crazy. Wonderful. Sentimental. Magical.

I'm realizing it's Wednesday and I've not even visited the blog to stop in and say hi! Well, I have a few good reasons.

First. The stomach flu. Have you had it yet? It started with the baby, and has been passing itself very generously up the line. Thank you, stomach flu. We've had enough, and you can go home now.

Second. Weddings. My husband's baby sister (well, not so baby at 25) is getting married this week! She's in for a gorgeous white, winter wedding. We're so happy for her and her husband-to-be is just as great. Our kids are big fans of them both, and as they live close to us, we have been so lucky to watch their friendship turn into this! Weddings are wonderful, aren't they?

Here are some engagement pics by Tara B. Photography. Aren't they a darling couple?

Third: On the wedding theme, Kenneth and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary this week too! In fact, on his sister's wedding day. I've been thinking so much about her wedding, that I've nearly forgotten the significance of our own 10 years!!! It's seriously amazing to have this:

turn to this:

and this:

I won't spend time gushing here, but I'm so lucky to be married to my very best, best friend. So, so lucky!

Giveaway: Christmas is Here

Oh I am so excited for this giveaway!

Horray for another SIGNED Picture book from the lovely Lauren Castillo!

I mentioned this book last month as a new favorite Christmas book. Her work is so charming and simple and wonderful. I can't say I've ever come across another illustrator like her.

A little about Lauren: She graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003 and moved to Manhattan straight away. She knocked on some doors, and landed her first picture book (and my favorite of hers, actually) What Happens on Wednesdays. She now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is illustrating up a storm with CHRISTMAS IS HERE as her latest feature.

I first fell in love with her work when I noticed her buildings and cityscapes. Lauren has a way with illustrating architecture. It's almost as though the buildings come alive. These are some of my favorites:

And here are some winter scenes that I just love too!

So, back to Christmas is Here: I was so happy when I came across this Christmas Picture book, with text right from the Bible. What more do you need than that! You'll love this sweet interpretation of the Nativity story...and we love it too!

Lauren actually will be going to Romania very, very soon and will be giving 300 free copies of this book to orphan children along with her church group. It makes me so happy to imagine those children with an illustrated copy of the Nativity all of their own!

So when Lauren was willing to send me TWO signed copies of her books to giveaway, I was thrilled! tempted to keep one myself. But, 'tis the Christmas Season, and I'm feeling rather generous:) That, and my children have already loved up a copy of their own!

So, for the giveaway?

Giveaway instructions:

  • leave a comment making sure to enter your name and email where it asks you to
  • comments will be closed on Sunday Dec. 12th at Midnight EST
  • TWO winners will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of CHRISTMAS IS HERE
  • Winners will be contacted via email
  • I'll ship them out Tuesday the 13th to make sure you get them for Christmas!

Best of luck!

Monday, Monday.

So, I've looked through  my blog posts as of late, and I realized two things: This blog isn't sporting much photography or art lately!

Which is really ironic, because all I do is spend time with my children all day, and in evenings, all I do is design and illustrate!  But then I remembered:

1) My camera is dying. Yes. A slow miserable death. And a replacement is not in the picture right now...well, the camera that I have been trying to save up for at least. So, thus the lack of photography. It pains me, because I really love taking pictures.  And it's Christmas! It's very sad. I've got to fix that problem, and soon!

2) I've been illustrating up a storm, but nothing I am illustrating and designing I can show you! I hate that I have to be so secretive. But it's part of the job.  I've been busy busy getting fabric designs finished, and working on other book ideas, etc. My sketchbooks are full to the brim! But I found a little snippet that showed up in my sketchbook a few pages back. Balloons are on my mind right now.

Well, happy monday, and I'm back to drawing, drawing, drawing! Oh, and there are some great giveaways this stay tuned!



Handmade Giveaway: MiniMe

Today's Giveaway is from MiniMe Paper Dolls.

MiniMe makes personalized paper dolls that you can customize to look just like your child! We are in love with these at our house. We have one for Addie, and she loves them. What I love about them, is that they are bigger than most paper dolls out there, which makes for really fun dress up play.

Just take a look at how darling:

Just perfect for stocking stuffers, or for those snowed in days!

Hannah, the designer and owner, has boy paper dolls, and some great winter outfits too! Check out her site to get the scoop, and her blog is darling too!

Thanks, Hannah for this awesome giveaway!


* One personalized hand drawn and digitally colored MiniMe doll with name stand

* 6 adorable outfits (Winter Line...or substitute this with any other season line)

* Amazing reusable adhesive strip so you have the option of playing with or without tabs!

* "All About Me" pages (four pages for your favorite girl to fill out and keep as a memento).

* A special "Keepsake Doll Set" that is signed by the artist.

* A CD with custom doll, outfits and "All About Me" pages for reprinting.

Does it get any better? And as a bonus, Minime Paper Dolls is offering this for all readers:

Buy ANY Doll Package (Ultimate, Standard, Print it Yourself) get a customized doll and winter outfits FREE, with a deadline of Dec. 15th for all printed orders, and Dec. 23rd for all PDF orders.

Giveaway instructions:

  • Leave a comment making sure to enter your name and email where it asks you to
  • Comments will be closed on Sunday Dec. 5th at Midnight EST
  • ONE winner will be chosen
  • Winner will be contacted via email

Best of luck to you!


Winner: Audra Costello!

Kiki & Coco.


I am needing a good pick-me-up today, and I've found it.

Found via Sugar City Journal last night, this video is making my entire month. Photographer-Mother-Stephanie Rausser photographed her little girl's trip to Paris with her best friend Coco...her rather perfect handmade rag-doll.

Click here for the darling, darling slide show. Honestly...I think I'm off to go make a Coco Doll for my girls. I made a small version for Addie last year, but this size is perfect!

Watch it and you'll laugh and cry. Its reminding me to see the way my children see their playthings. And it makes me want to go back to Paris. Really bad. Really, really bad.

P.S. The Paris Print is coming soon! By the end of the week, soon. It's so sweet. And when I'm done, I'm off to sew one of these:

And then maybe, just maybe, I'll be off to Paris.

And P.S. There is a super huge giveaway at Design Mom you'll want to check out today. $200 gift card to the shop, as well as another few hundred dollars in awesome giveaways. But it's only today, so hurry!

Wall to wall bulletin surface

Over the Holiday, Kenneth and I finally got our wall to wall bulletin board up in the studio!

I've been tacking (and skotch-taping...shhh!) art to the walls since we moved in, and it's been rather messy (when you're working on a book, and you are taping paper up and down and up and gets junked up fast!) I've been researching the best and most cost effective way to get a 4 ft. x 12 ft. bulletin board, and after a while of searching, I found it! Homosote.

Homosote is a 'green' product made from recycled paper, so it has a pulpy texture to it. You can read more about it here. I used the 440 Sound Barrier stuff. I think you can get cork surface and better looking tackable surfaces from them too, but the more basic board was what I found locally, and I wanted to wrap it in linen anyways. Builders use these boards for a boat load of things, like sound proofing rooms, etc. But I discovered online that tons of designers, artchitects, etc. use it to line walls to make a surface for mounting paper. Bingo! That's what I needed. It's super inexpensive ($30-ish for a 4x8 sheet) and thick enough to put tacks through (I got the 1/2 inch thick surface). Cork Board isn't even that thick, and much more pricey when you want to get an entire walls worth.

(By the way...I'm not advertising or anything...just sharing!)

So, here's what we did:

1. First, here's a look at what it looks like. It's like a perfect blend between cardboard and wood.

2. We needed 2 sheets,  but not all of the second, so we cut it to size. Getting a little weight on there was helpful.

3. I covered the Homosote in linen, and ironed out the folds. Well, the incredibly-wonderful-man did. He irons too! The surface is fine on it's own, but brown wasn't what I was really wanted.

4. We laid the Homosote on top of the linen so we could wrap it like a canvas.

5. Staple guns are my friend.

6. When Ken drilled the board to the wall, we used these caps to cover the screws so that only the white cap would show, and not the screw head.

And now, I have a totally usable wall surface for laying out storyboards, colors, design swatches, to-do lists (no...scratch that) and the sort. Being a visual person, I need things in front of me to get the juices going. But not too much...I like clear space too. Can you tell?

You might think the studio is a bit sparce...well it is. But I am in no rush to make it perfect. It will evolve, but can I be honest with you? Life with 3 little children is so full and colorful (and cluttery and messy) that I crave clear white space when I create. It helps me dejunk from the day of noodles on my shirt and stains on the floor. It really does!

Here's what's on my board now. Nothing fancy...just what I am thinking about right now.

inspriation board blog
inspriation board blog

So. Studio space is coming together. Hooray!

Children's Book Advent Calendar

I've been wanting to do this advent calendar for years...and I finally get to do it!  This will be our first Christmas home since having children, and I've wanted to have this be a family tradition of ours since I saw this idea from a neighbor of mine years back.

Children's Picture Book Advent Calendar: What is it?

24 Christmas Picture Books, all wrapped up and marked for each day leading up until Christmas. This way, we will be reading one Christmas story a night!

Now don't panic...getting 24 Christmas Books isn't as hard as it looks. When you can check out Christmas books from the Library for 3 weeks at a time, it makes it rather may need to renew one time in there, but it still makes for a lovely tradition! And inexpensive too!

And Book the Bible, so that lessens the load a bit. But you'd be surprised how many Christmas books you already have.  Really, I am sure you have more than you think you do. I think books on winter can even count too... And don't forget any Christmas Anthologies with short stories in there too.

Here's a list of a few of mine in there:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I'll Be Home For Christmas

The Polar Express

The 12 Prayers of Christmas

Christmas In the Manger

Christmas is Here

Christmas Day in the Morning

Snowmen at Christmas

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree

God Gave us Christmas

Who is Coming to Our House?

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Oh there are SO many Christmas books that I want to get my hands on....I have so many favorites that I don't even have own yet! But this year, most of the books in our Advent Calender we DO own (thanks to the need to have a few books for "research" when working on my book) but even the children, these books will be like new since they are all wrapped up.

These books are now in our open bookcase in the basement (thus the really lousy photo...sorry!) But this way, they are in plain visibility. Another good place is the hearth of the fireplace...or in your child's bedroom.

Anyways...I wanted to share in case anyone needed a good idea for an advent calendar this year. And the best part? It's either "rented" or a good reason to add to your already established Christmas collection.

Have any of you ever tried this one? It's a new tradition for us this year, and I think this one is here to stay!

Happy Christmas!



P.S. And don't forget! The Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale in the shop ends tonight at midnight!