Family Portraits

photo by Julie Chen @

Like most moms, I take pictures of my kids all the time, but I’m rarely ever in them. I love having family photos, I just hate having my picture taken. So each year I try to make sure we have at least one good family photo for our Christmas card, usually taken at a wedding or some other event during the year when we’re dressed up and there’s someone around to snap a picture of us together.

photo by Julie Chen @

This year, knowing that there would be beautiful weather for at least the next several days, I asked my friend, Julie (a super talented photographer and graphic designer), if there was any chance she’d be able to meet us at a nearby park to do a quick photo session. It was totally last minute, and I’m so grateful to her for taking time out of her busy schedule for us.

photo by Julie Chen @

Julie spent so much time with us, exploring the park to find great spots, and my kids had so much fun with her. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our photos turned out!

photo by Julie Chen @

If you’re anywhere near Downers Grove, Illinois (a western suburb of Chicago), and you’re thinking about having family portraits taken – I highly recommend Julie!

photo by Julie Chen @

She’s also going to be launching a new product line soon… personalized canvases and cafe mounts featuring customers’ photos combined with beautiful, modern graphic design. Here are a few examples:

personalized photo canvas art by

personalized photo canvas art by

To order a personalized photo canvas, contact Julie through her blog or her Etsy shop for more information.


I decided to completely unplug while on vacation this year, and even include a day before and a few days after our actual trip to just relax and spend time with my family. We’re leaving on Sunday morning for a 4-day family vacation, but I decided to “close shop” for 8 days altogether.

As I was posting my vacation notice on my website, putting my Etsy shop in “vacation mode”, and setting up an auto-responder for my email, I felt like Mark Harmon in the opening scene of Summer School trying to get away from my computer before any more orders came in (my husband didn’t get the reference, but I know someone will!)

A couple of weeks ago as we were planning this vacation I wasn’t sure how many days I’d take off or if I’d be able to completely unplug, but as it’s gotten closer I’ve started to really look forward to taking a break from work and hopefully coming back refreshed and energized and ready to make some decisions about the next steps for my business.

For now I actually have other things on my mind for once… bike rides, swimming, ice cream shops, boating, board games, a stack of magazines, a couple of books, and a glass of wine on the balcony after the kids are in bed.


We were in the car yesterday after I picked up Jack from kindergarten, and he was telling me about a box that another kid brought to school. I asked him how big it was, and he said, “it would probably hold about 30 or 50 note cards.” What a nice boy to put it in terms I would understand!


I’ve decided to take a much needed week-long family vacation before school starts – my first vacation since opening my Etsy shop! I’ll be posting my vacation dates in my shop announcement and setting up an out-of-office auto reply for my email, but as much as I’d love to completely unplug for a week, I have a feeling I’ll end up checking email occasionally and probably doing some work for my new website when the kids are napping or in bed for the night.

Any orders placed between 8/9 – 8/17 will be shipped when I return on 8/18… see you then!

Happy (belated) Easter!

Happy Easter a day late! I’m using the above picture from Sheye’s blog because I never seem to take any good pictures on Easter. But we had a really nice day yesterday – Jack and Emma are at such fun ages for early morning egg hunts and discovering their Easter baskets!

We also spent a lot of time this weekend playing Yahtzee and Scattergories – it was so fun to take a break from Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land, and Hi Ho Cherry-O! Jack’s been really into board games lately and keeps insisting that we teach him how to play big kid games. This started a few weeks ago at my mom’s house with checkers, chess, and Parcheesi, and then on Friday he discovered the stash of games in our basement that I had forgotten all about for the past 5 years. It was so much fun to get those games out and be able to play them with the kids.

a little introspection

I just noticed I hadn’t posted anything yet today, so I figured I’d share a quick little story…

I was talking on the phone to a friend yesterday, and she asked me how my business was going. I started telling her about the latest developments, and she said, “Wow, you’re so passionate when you talk about your business, I wish I could find something that I felt that way about.”

This was such an interesting comment to me because it was only a few months ago that I, too, never thought I’d find something like this for myself. I spent my days hanging out with the kids and taking care of the house, and other than going to the gym, I wasn’t really doing anything just for myself – nothing creative or intellectually challenging.

I’ve had so many ideas over the years that I haven’t followed through on, and once I became a mom I wasn’t planning on ever going back to work. But now here I am, staying at home with my kids and also building a business that I’m really passionate about. So it’s been nice to step back a little and be grateful for that.

And as I’ve mentioned before, I hate to post without a picture, so here’s a picture I took this afternoon. We haven’t been going out much with all this cold weather, so Jack & Emma have been getting really good at using their imaginations and coming up with all kinds of silly games to play – so much like how we played when we were kids, I love it! (That’s a dog costume Emma’s wearing under her cape!)

very cool

Every once in a while I like to take a look at my blog statistics to see where my readers are coming from (well, let’s be honest, it’s probably more like every day!) Yesterday I noticed a referral from Lorajeans Magazine and clicked on the link to take a look at her blog. Imagine my delight when I saw that I was on her list of “Artsy Blogs I Love”! And not only that, but I really admire the other artists on the list – it’s truly an honor, Lorajean – thank you!
As I’ve shared with some of you through email conversations, I have no education in art or graphic design (my last art class was in 8th grade). It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do but never seriously persued until now. I majored in Business Management and worked in a variety of administrative and project management-type of jobs before having kids. So while being on someone’s blog roll may not seem like a big deal to most people, to me it’s a huge compliment to be called “artsy”!

I’ll stick with paper

Inspired by these fairy crowns from Nest Pretty Things on Etsy, I decided to try making my own “princess crowns” for my daughter, Emma, and her friends to wear at Emma’s upcoming 3rd birthday party.
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, and Emma loves wearing her crown around the house.

But more importantly it was a great learning experience for me. Whenever I see handcrafted things like these I start thinking, maybe I should make stuff like that instead of trying to draw. Making the first one was fun… making the 2nd – 6th ones was definitely NOT FUN. So once again I feel good about what I’m doing and my decision to create illustrations that can be turned into multiple prints with the click of a button.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I asked my son, Jack, this morning what he’s thankful for, and his answer was, “All the beautiful colors that God made for flowers. And dogs and cats and birds and condors.” I thought that was such a great answer, and it really gave me a lot to think about. I get so wrapped up in things that don’t really matter and never stop to appreciate the small things like “all the beautiful colors.” Thanks for the insight, Jack!