Monday, December 23, 2013

CraftingPlay is on Zulily today!

I love myself some Zulily. How surprised and excited I was when I saw one of my illustrations for sale on their page today! If you aren't registered with Zulily, you may not be able to view the link. If that's the case, you can check out/ buy products with the same design directly from CafePress.

I created that design almost four years ago while we were waiting for Ethan's arrival. Pretty neato!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Skillshare Photo Series Class Discount Code

I'm so excited to be teaching a photography class at Skillshare!! 

For my blog readers, you can use discount code SAVE5 to save $5 from now until 12/10/14. That means the class is only $14! 

I love taking classes through Skillshare because they are a great online, self paced, opportunity to learn new skills. I can't be happier to see my content launched though such a great site.

photo series is a set of photographs created with the intent of telling a story, evoking emotion, or causing the viewer to take a closer look at something. Shooting a photo series can be a lot of fun, and working within the parameters of a series can ignite your creativity and advance your photography skills.

As a photographer, I love the creative spark that a photo series gives me. Not only do series inspire me to pick up my camera, but they also are a great way to create a cohesive project from start to finish. My current series, “Little Loves: Everyday Life” is a personal, longer and ongoing photo series that allows me to be mindful of the details and moments of my everyday life.  With this class, I want to share with you the joy and satisfaction of creating a photo series and then displaying it in a collage.

A collage is a great format to display your series (and all the work you put into it), and looks fabulous on a blog, Facebook, greeting cards, or printed and framed on your wall! 

What you’ll learn
In this class we will break down a photo series into manageable steps by:
  • Defining a photo series by looking at examples and resources
  • Learning to develop your idea though word lists, mood boards, and shot lists
  • Discussing basic photo composition and how to strengthen your images
  • Learning about basic photo editing and effects
  • Creating a collage using 4-9 images from your series
Who is this class for?
This class is for anyone who enjoys taking pictures and is eager to take part in a photography challenge.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, a photo enthusiast, a budding photojournalist, a parent, or heck, you just love documenting life with your camera…this class is for you.

You can use any photo equipment you choose: a cell phone, a point and shoot, or an SLR. You also do not need to have any prior experience with photo editing, nor do you need any special software. I will demo how to use the free software at to do our editing and collage, however you are free to use other editing software like Photoshop if you prefer.

Enroll here.  (remember to use code SAVE5)

Want a sneak peek?

Hope to see you in class!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Student Pottery Sale

This weekend went went to the student pottery sale at Millersville University. Was nice to be back at the Alma matter and supporting some very talented art students. Shout out to Alyssa Zimmerman, she made the two lovely pieces on the right. I love the form of the mug, and we can't wait to use the bowl for some guacamole! So excited to have these pieces as part of my art collection!

Ethan would have bought just about everything there if we had let him. He left with two small clay pendants of his own.

So my shopping tip? Keep an eye out for student sales. You'll be amazed with the quality of the pieces and you'll be supporting some wonderful artists who are just trying to get started. Win-win.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Six Little Paintings

It's been a long time since Ethan's fingerpainted. So when he asked, we went down into the studio and he got to work. One of my favorite parts of the studio space is our drying line. Not only does it look awesome when all the little paintings are hanging in a row, but I can see the excitement and sense of pride when Ethan gets to clip his masterpieces up there. It's really just a $9 retractable clothesline. Great for hanging artwork, but nice that it can easily slide away when not in use. 

I'm actually quite a fan of the red one in the middle. That might show up in a frame somewhere. Anyway, my main point is a just a little reminder that if it's been awhile, get out the paints again. It really is a lot of fun...And who doesn't want to preserve some little hand prints? They sure don't stay little for long...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pom-pom Toe-ga Game

Recently at a yoga class, my instructor was having us do some "toe-ga" or feet strengthening exercises. I was doing a little research, and came across this great little children's yoga game. Basically, you dump a bunch of pom-poms on the floor. Each player gets a yoga mat. Picking up the pom-poms with your feet, you bring as many as you can back to your mat. Whoever has the most at the end, wins. 

We tried it out this weekend and it was a hit. At first, Ethan was pretty sure he couldn't possibly pick up the pom-pom with his toes, but once he did, he thought it was pretty cool. The game part fell apart a bit when I was only allowed to pick up the colors that he "didn't like," but it was still some good, fun, active play. And I'll tell you what, at then end, my feet were feeling pretty tired! 

I didn't get a photograph, but Ethan also thought it was fun to pick up the pom-poms with his feet and try putting them into an empty tissue box, similar to our old fill and spill game (in fact, it's the same pom-poms and the same tissue box).

Pom-pom Toe-ga game for the win.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weeee!!!! Photoshop 101 Homework

Sorry for the double post today, but I'm taking a Photoshop 101 class with Melanie Burk though Nicole's Classes. Even though I have been using Photoshop for years, I've still learned quite a bit. It's been great! Anyway, I learned how to create an animated gif in Photoshop today. This is just a set of cell phone pics of Ethan and his daddy at the park the other evening, but they animate quite well I think. :)

PS- I created the images in my last post as part of the Photoshop 101 class as well. Good stuff. Do yourself a favor and check out Nicole's Classes!

Pretty Potted Plants on a Dime

I bought these pots for a dollar a piece at Target back in the spring. (They were actually ice cream cups from the kitchen section). I love the brilliant colors and had really good intentions of buying some artificial succulents to put in them... until I saw the price tags. No way I was going to pay $7 per piece to fill my dollar pots. I ended up getting these $1 aquarium plants from the pet store and dropped them in. 

Small inexpensive pots (I imagine you could paint some cheap clay pots at around $1 each) and aquarium plants. Easy-peasy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

3 Minute Recycled Ghosts

I really wanted to go outside the other evening. Cool and crisp fall air was upon us. 3 year old Ethan was less than interested, so I suggested we decorate for Halloween. Suddenly, going outside was a cause he could get behind. I really didn't have much, and I hadn't planned ahead (silly Mommy)...and so I decided I'd make ghosts while Ethan played with the materials we'd quick whip up some ghosts.

I headed to the basement (where the treasures are) and got some old white t-shirts that Daddy was saving for when he works on the car. I also grabbed some scissors, plastic grocery bags, and fishing line.

I balled up 1-2 bags and wrapped the t-shirt around it. I'd hold the shirt tightly around the plastic bag ball, and then rather haphazardly, I'd cut the "tail" of the ghost. Tie with some fishing line and ta-da! I said each ghost took about 3 minutes, but after I got rolling, it was probably even faster than that.

Ethan directed where to hang them in the tree, and we were done!

If I were to do it differently (aka, didn't have a preschooler chomping at the bit), I may have threaded the fishing line though the top of the head to hang them, but I like to think when they're leaning, it's like they are really flying! Ooooooo! Weather pending, I may add some spider web to the base of the tree for Trick or Treat night.

Either way, they really do look quite spooky out there! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crayons are for Adults

This week I broke out the old box of crayons. I'm not kidding when I say "my old box" name is written in poor penmanship, in pencil, on the back of the box. The box copyright is 1990. I'm pretty sure those 8 new colors aren't so new anymore. 

They may have been with me for awhile, but the crayon sharpener on the back of the box is just as lovely as always. (Remember how cool that pencil sharpener was? And how much it sucked when the bottom of the box would open up in your school desk?) Oh, and they still smell just as fantastic too.

I've been keeping this box and paper on my desk at work during the day. 

I spend all day creating. Typically, when I need to think, find an idea, or work though something, I'll take to the internet and look all over the web for inspiration. I look at art, design, color, blogs-- all rather mindlessly until I work through my creative block in the back of my brain. Sometimes what I'm looking at sparks an idea; Other times just the break helps. It's my tried and true system. 

This week I've been replacing some of that mindless surfing with a little coloring. It's a bit more meditative. I try and really focus just on the colors and the act of coloring, and clear my head. Only a minute or two at a time, but it's pretty good for a quick recharge. I'm 3 days in, and you can see from the image how little I've gotten done. It's not a lot, but it seems just right.

Regardless, it's been a nice change, and I have this wonderfully colorful piece of art to look at. :) Really, isn't it pretty?!?  OH yeah, and it's so nice to be making marks on paper (that are not part of a to-do list).

You can download and print your own copy from my pin here. I repinned from Pinterest and I'm not real sure where the original is (If you know, please help me and give me a link so I can give more proper credit). Looks like it's a design from Dover. They have some amazing adult coloring books that are quite affordable...Love that the pages of the books are perforated too. Will have to get some of those!  (Sorry, I digress).

So- do you love to color?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Raising a Shutterbug

Interestingly enough, after posting last week about Strausburg, we ended up there again this weekend. Ethan's preschool class read 30 books as part of a library program, and he had a free train ride ticket waiting for him that we couldn't refuse.

Ethan asked during the ride if he could take some photos. I set the camera on Program, and the lens to 18mm and let him go. We helped him hold the weight of the lens (and keep him from banging it against anything when he would review his photos). Even with our hands on the lens, Ethan moved the camera around to take the photo he wanted. He had a BLAST.

Gotta say too, many of them are quite nice...take a look at Lancaster county through the eyes of a three year old. :)

Yup, he loved it. :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Railroad Museum of PA Photo Exhibit

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA had a call for photograph submissions early in the year. I entered one of my favorite photos of Ethan visiting the museum and the trains at Strasburg. It wasn't chosen as a winner, but it is right next to the exhibit sign when you walk in, so I call that a win :)

This summer, we got the chance to go see the exhibit: From Your Lens: Images of Contemporary Railroading.

Here's the family checking out the exhibit.

I thought Ethan would think that it was neat that he was hanging on the wall, but he was pretty antsy to get to playing with the trains downstairs....I can't say I blame him. Regardless, it's always fun to have work on exhibit.

If you're interested, you can find out more here.  It runs until Dec 31.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Remembering Artist Richard Neubauer

It's not everyday that you get to meet a great artist. I was lucky enough to meet Richard Neubauer, first and foremost as my friend Jenn's father, but also as the artist that he was.  I was exceptionally lucky to get to get a chance to learn about the man behind the paintings through multiple meetings, interactions, and family stories. And equally lucky to see and enjoy so many photographs of his work over the years.
Sneak peek from the York Dispatch video below: "Age of Knowledge, Look Back at a Career"
Richard was a self-taught, Rembrandt-style artist. He drew a lot of his inspiration from the numerous books he read, and countless hours studying paintings at the Smithsonian National Gallery in Washington, DC. He was kind, witty, humble, and a wonderful husband and father.

On his Facebook page he wrote:

"Maybe i got the bug to paint pictures from my
Grandfather, who was an artist in Baltimore in the
Late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds,
painting signs on the sides of buildings that are
still visible today sometimes.
To paint a picture, first you need an idea that you
truly want to express. Make a rough sketch of
the idea with shading. That will be your guide for
your painting.
A painting must start with good composition.
Composition is essential. All styles of art,
whether it be abstract, impressionistic or other,
needs to have good composition. Composition is
the arrangement of components in a picture on
your canvas in a pleasing manner."

This captivating video, "Age of Knowledge, Look Back at a Career," was put together by the York Dispatch. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

You can admire more of his work on the Art of Richard Neubauer Facebook Page.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Number Walk- Learning Through Play

When we go for walks around the neighborhood, one of Ethan's favorite things to do is to look for house numbers on mailboxes. We stop by each and every one and practice reading the numbers. It's been a great way to learn to recognize and reinforce his numbers. And frankly, it's a good opportunity to be outside!

Follow up with a great counting book like The Waterhole by Graeme Base (a favorite book around our house) and you've got quite the evening cut out for you!

  See! Lots of happy smiles :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dusting off Little Loves

I'd kind of gotten away from picking up the camera again for awhile. My photography seems to ebb and flow depending on so many different factors. Sometimes life gets in the way...sometimes I'm just totally uninspired. And to be honest, I'm perfectly ok with that.
I've been relying on my cell phones for photos a lot lately. I actually paid for a few apps so that I can do a lot more image processing on the phone as well. My hope is to get back to my "Little Loves" of just everyday stuff.
Using my phone has given me the ability to sneak in a photo edit from time to time...not to mention, a camera that's a little bit more not to get the toddler "CHEESE- here's every single one of my teeth" faces (as much as I want to squeeze those cheeks, I want to see those eyes!) Well, ok, maybe that only works for a fraction of a second--sometimes that's all I need. Sure, it's not my beloved SLR, but it's filling a niche.
So here's four of my most recent shots that I'm enjoying right now...
Mac and Cheese and "Red Juice"
"Bathtub Paleontologist" with replica T-Rex tooth

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Creating an Identity Student Work

I talked a little bit about my project to rebrand before. It's work that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but the whole process made my brain hurt. Anytime I've attempted to brand before, I always end up falling short. What I really needed was a bit of guidance and some accountability. This spring I was lucky enough to take the Creating an Identity course with Melanie Burk through Nicole's Classes and put together a brand package that I really enjoy.
It was just featured in the Student Work section of the Nicole's Classes blog in June, too. Pretty cool, right? Make sure to stop over and see some of the other awesome and inspiring work that my classmates did as well.

nicole's classes student work!
Image from original Nicole's Classes blog post

Even though I have no intention of designing identities for clients, I learned a lot from this class. The process was a great way to force myself to think through my work properly. I was reminded to draw ideas from many different resources...look at lamp shades, clothing, curtains, etc. Lastly, to keep working though an idea, and trying to keep pushing the idea in different directions.
OK, enough about that! This girl has work to do!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Playroom Makeover

We use the formal living room space at our house as a playroom. It's full of toys. White walls. White bookshelves. Brown couch. Boring. Boring. Uninspiring. Seriously, I always felt like it was a total drag to sit in there for any period of time.

My goal was to create a fun, kid friendly playroom space that was fun, but could fit in with the adjacent adult dining room. This time I started at Target with some curtains. Oh Target, how you inspire me to empty my bank account. Oh yeah- I wanted to make over this room a bit without opening up a paint can (sorry folks, just not ready to cross the bridge yet!)

So here it is, my mood board for this project. I started with an analogous color scheme-- blue, blue-green, and green. I didn't use all of these exact items, but did end up with similar pieces.

It's just a few small details, but it sure makes the room seem so much cozier and more enjoyable to be in. Also, the little table is the perfect size for a Lego Duplo Plate or for coloring; the pouf makes a great "adult seat" at the table. All in all, a much more functional and happy space for the whole family! What'cha think?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nidhi Chanani Coloring Pages

One of my favorite artists, Nidhi Chanani has two coloring pages up on her website for free! Check them out, they're really cute!

And definitely look at her work while you're there. I own at least seven of her prints. I just absolutely love them. Nidhi has lots of art for sale on her website, and also in her etsy shop.

I love when the art and designs that I enjoy cross over with childhood so seamlessly. :)

Have fun- and be sure to color some pages yourself!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bold Flora Living Room Accents

I'm not an interior designer by any stretch of the imagination. I have an eye for color, but I have the absolute worst time picking a theme or color pallet and sticking with it. I get very distracted, especially if something shiny catches my eye!

I decided that this time around I would create a mood board for my living room area. I also knew that I was sticking with our blue upholstery and some burgundy and gold curtains (I've got a budget folks!). And that our living room's accent wall is brick with a black pellet stove. 

I started by shopping for a pillow as a bit of an inspiration piece. I found a marbled pillow at Target that seemed like a great starting point and I built a mood board from there. It's really something that I'm working on with all my design work, so it's a good way to practice in a real application. (See- these graphics classes are starting to pay off!)

This is my first real mood board, but I'm really happy with how it's shaping up. With this project I'm also trying to focus on being bolder and brighter with my accent colors. It's a bit outside the box from my norm, but still very me. 

I'm going to use all these pieces in our space, with the exception of the coral. Instead, I'm going to use some coral we picked up in the Bahamas last month (what fate!). Otherwise, I may have spray painted some aquarium coral to achieve the same look! 

Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jumping Bean Train T-Shirt Gets it Right

Jumping Bean T -Kohl's
I feel a little extra joy every time I look at this t-shirt. Our little dude is extremely particular about what he wears. If he doesn't fall in love with the design on the shirt, forget it. If it has buttons on it, it's dead to him. Seriously. I was really excited when I found this shirt at Kohls because he loves the trains, and I love the great illustration. There's so much great shape, texture, and repetition. Lots of movement and a good use of the vertical space. The detail on the logs and the little trees have to be my favorites. Now not only do we have a shirt that he likes, but one that I love to look at. Well done Jumping Bean!

PS- Even better yet, it costs $6! (Looks like stock may be getting low)

Quiet Still

I recently took this great Skillshare class called Digital Illustration: Communicating with Color, Pattern, and Texture with Brad Woodard. I was actually really nervous to take the class. Seriously, I think I read the description a good 20 times mulling it over.  I am not an illustrator by any stretch of the imagination, but the topic seemed really neat, and promised to uncover some new techniques for me. I took the course despite being a bit freaked out...and if you've never taken a class through Skillshare, the price was right. And of course, I reminded myself to get over it...we're talking online learning here! Best $15 I've spent in a long time! Seriously, how can you beat that?!

Our project was to create an illustration for either the word loud or quiet. We started with important step that I always skip and shortcut. Then I got to this point on the left here and under normal circumstances, I probably would have stopped. I really was quite pleased. Luckily though, I got some great feedback and tutorials on how to keep pushing the project forward. If there's anything I've learned from the classes I've taken this year, it's to keep pushing designs, even if you think they're done.

I'm also signed up for Brad's Learn the In's and Outs of Illustrator class that's taking place right now (for only $25- what a steal). It's not too late to join in if you want to learn more about using Adobe Illustrator (honestly, it's four days in and I haven't started yet). If you do, I'd love to know so I can check out your project! :)

Hoping to put this piece up for sale soon, hopefully via digital download. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Create and Create Again

It's been quite around here lately. Not that life has been quiet, but I've been working on some things behind the scenes, and haven't really been posting.


I'm taking this blog in a bit of a new direction. I love sharing ideas about projects for tots and all the creative energy that goes into them; I will continue to share them too...but always seemed like such a small piece of the pie (yum!)

Instead, I'll be following more of a creative lifestyle route. (Because like most creative folks, I have a hard time focusing my energy all in one place). I want to blog about photography, graphic design, interior design, fashion, creativity,  and all those fun and playful things that inspire me every day. They're all so tightly interwoven, and I can't wait to share my creative journey!

Most of my energy lately has gone to designing and revising my brand. I recently launched phase 1 of my website. with it's brand spanking new logo. (Huge shout-out to Melanie and all the student's at Nicole's classes who helped me work thought my brand design in the Creating an Identity class!) I'm also working on this space here. I'm just getting started, but happy to start fresh!

Ok, enough about that! More brand spanking new content to follow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Little Loves- Joy in a Little Artist

One of the things I love most about early childhood art is watching the process. Watching the concentration, those little gears turning, and those creative sparks flying is just priceless. What else have I learned? Creativity takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. It truly is a process, no matter how old you are. I've been rediscovering the importance of practice my own creative path, but I see it reflected in these images.

And because I'm a proud momma, I can't help but share one of Ethan's recent drawings. It's probably the third example of something representational that I've witness him draw accurately, and it's by far the strongest. 

Phew! Creating great art is hard!

"I'm drawing a sun. It's wearing sunglasses."

Doesn't get much better than that!


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