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Illustrated Family Portrait: Holiday Card 2013

In our time honored tradition of sending an illustrated family portrait (started in 2012), we commissioned the lovely and talented Cecilia Ruiz to create this year’s holiday greeting. Cecilia is a graduate of the renowned School of Visual Arts MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program where Matthew teaches, and is seriously one of the most enchanting ladies you will ever meet. All of the details in her artwork brilliantly capture the spirit of our eventful year!

Because we tend to love extremely custom and overly complicated executions, we decided the only suitable solution for sealing the envelope was with our own wax seal (obviously!) We had a custom one made with the double-R crest from our Disney shirts and hashtag #royalrichmonds. It’s a pleasant surprise that the wax seals made it through the US Postal Service intact — mostly.

Thank you again to Cecilia for working with us to create this amazing keepsake for our family!

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Custom Disney T-Shirts: 2013 Edition

This summer we did more traveling than we usually do. In July, Matthew and I took a much needed parents-only vacation to London to stalk Kate Middleton to visit my cousin and adopted the hashtag #RoyalRichmonds as we Instagrammed our adventures at all the royal sights. In August, we packed up the kiddies and made our third trip to Disney World in our matching custom shirts, of course. For this year’s design, we took a little inspiration from London and created a coat of arms with a Disney twist!

The illustration includes symbolism of both Disney and NYC. The shield supporter on the left is Mufasa (of The Lion King fame), and opposite him is Patience, one of the NY Public Library lions (trivia alert: the other library lion is named Fortitude.) They’re wearing iconic headwear of Mickey ears and Lady Liberty’s crown, and are standing atop the public transportation for each location. The four quadrants of the crest each represent one of the Richmonds (Cooper’s Minecraft sword wound up working really nicely with this concept.)

Rather than use typical Avery iron-on sheets to transfer the art to the shirts, we took things up a notch and finally got the Silhouette Cameo cutter we’ve been coveting for a while. This thing can get craaazy detailed! After importing the art from Illustrator into the Studio software, the Cameo die cut it on the sticky transfer paper and then Matthew painstakingly removed all the negative areas with a little pick that looks like a dental tool. We then spent about 2.5 hours total actually ironing the art onto the shirts. This was definitely much longer than the instructions let on, but the end result came out way better than we could have done without the Cameo!

THANK YOU to PRINT Magazine who awarded our shirts in the “PRINT Celebrates Design” competition!

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Carnival Birthday Party

We can’t believe that Cooper is already six years old! Having to count your age on two hands instead of one is a pretty big deal, so we celebrated with a candy-filled carnival birthday party for him and all his Kindergarten buddies.

We filled up our building lounge with 100 brightly colored balloons and created a sweets table inspired by an Amy Atlas book given to me by our talented friend Marissa Levy. We created our own birthday buttons (a Richmond tradition), and I wore a custom red pocket apron like a true carny! Coop and his friends played classic carnival games, inked themselves with temporary tattoos by Tattly (thanks, Tina!) and beat the heck out of a number 6 pinata… but the biggest hit was the amazingly fun photo booth! Matthew used some pretty sweet camera equipment and his perfect lighting skills to create a pro-style set so the kids could snap their own epic shots. We set out silly props like hats, beads and mustaches and talk bubbles on sticks. Our friend – and really good sport – Eric ran the printing station so everyone got to take their photos home with them. I think the parents had as much fun as the kids! When it came time to sing “happy birthday,” the kids munched on super delicious and festive color surprise cupcakes by Kristin Cimonetti.

Happy birthday Cooper!

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Hand Painted Family Portrait: Holiday Card 2012

Who needs the Instagram/Flickr photo wars when you can keep it real 18th century style with a hand painted family portrait instead?

As part of our effort to revive this lost art via our family holiday card, we decided to tap into the immensely talented pool of alumni from the School of Visual Arts MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program that Matthew has had the pleasure of teaching in for many years. I remembered meeting Rebecca Zomchek at the graduate thesis show and knew she could perfectly capture our vision of “realistic, with somewhat awkward and serious pose and symbolic elements, a la The Royal Tennenbaums movie poster and The Arnolfini Wedding by Jan Van Eyck.” Everything in the painting (including our clothing!) represents events or milestones that happened in our family over the past year. Cooper participated in the art direction and was very adamant about the fact that he wanted Rebecca to correctly render his shoes.

We printed the cards 6″x6″ square, and sent to family and friends in a kraft paper envelope decorated with stamps of hand-drawn art.

Huge thanks again to Rebecca for working with us to create this amazing keepsake and helping us start a kick-ass tradition we plan on continuing every year.

NYC Subway Costumes

In the Halloween wake of Hurricane Sandy, our little 6 and F trains were, quite literally, the only subways running at the time. Matthew outdid himself yet again and created another gorgeous, completely custom handcrafted subway car — though scaled down slightly to fit Holden! Cooper wanted to wear his for the third year in a row with an updated train line (in prior years, it was formerly a 3 train and a 7 train.) I fear for what we’ll have to build next when he finally outgrows it…

Stand clear of the closing doors

All boys in NYC love riding the subway — and what they love even more are those little wooden train cars. We easily have the entire mini-MTA in our living room. So, there wasn’t really a question this year that we’d celebrate Cooper’s 5th birthday at his favorite place, the NY Transit Museum.

The evite was created from a photo we took in front of an old subway sign in the museum. Family favorite Betty Bakery once again created treats for us, this time in the form of yummy subway-themed cupcakes. Each party-goer got a treat box (from my favorite and least-expected kids’ party supplier, The Knot Wedding Shop!) that we decorated with homemade subway line stickers.

Playyy ball!

My sister and her husband love baseball so, naturally, when my nephew turned one we had to pay homage to America’s pastime with an all-star baseball party in their backyard.

We styled a fun and festive concession stand featuring Lone Star Kettle Corn popcorn, peanuts, single-serve cotton candy bags, and glass bottle Cokes. Close family members were outfitted in specially-designed team logo tees (note: I will look for any and every excuse to make matching tees!) and guests were given souvenir buttons and vintage-inspired custom baseball cards featuring the birthday boy.

Special thanks to Pottery Barn Kids for featuring our baseball party on their Facebook page!

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And the Oscar goes to…

Holden has always turned heads and made ladies swoon. My mother calls him “her Hollywood hunk,” so, when the time came to plan his first birthday, which falls during Oscar season, it seemed fitting to turn him into a movie star!

The main decor showpiece was a set of classic movie posters we turned into 24×36″ prints featuring Holden alongside some of Hollywood’s greatest names.  Betty Bakery took the illustration from our evite as inspiration and artfully created the gorgeous — and delicious — cake. Guests played a suspense-filled game of opening sealed red envelopes to reveal a winner (the prize? $20!) and took home autographed 8×10″ glossies.

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3 Train

Matthew spent several sleepless nights hand-crafting (from scratch!) this stunning subway replica Halloween costume — AND it lights up, people! Go dad!

Read more about how he made the train.