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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!

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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.

Custom Disney T-Shirts

I will jump at any opportunity to have us wear matching shirts (have you seen our baseball party?). I know there is a only finite amount of time I can continue to do this before I am met with eye rolls, refusals and sighs of, “mom, you are so weird and lame.” And so, a new tradition was born. While the kiddos still think it is the most fun thing ever, on the day of departure of our annual family vacation we’ll all don custom t-shirts designed by us!

Our trip this year was to the happiest place on earth, Disney World. The inspiration for the illustration came from some hand-drawn infographics we’d seen recently, as well as private jokes and fun moments from our first trip to Disney last year. The kids got to participate in creating the shirt by choosing which rides and stories to highlight (lunch with Pooh and It’s a Small World were must-haves) and helping art direct me as I drew.

Check out some photos of our trip (and shirts) on Flickr.

Kinder Surprise Egg Marriage Proposal

April 9th marks the 9th anniversary of our awesomely creative (and geeky) engagement. Matthew had been up late “working” for many nights, which is the norm, but this time his real reason for burning the midnight oil was this incredible creation.

We used to buy Kinder Surprise Egg candies for each other all the time. If you aren’t familiar, it is a chocolate egg that contains a tiny, whimsical toy with assembly instructions inside. They are so much fun — maybe too much fun — sadly, the US banned them from import a few years ago.

Matthew painstakingly took apart the chocolate egg and replaced the toy inside with a small robot figure and illustrated instructions on how to assemble him into a tiny MatthewBot on bended knee. Also inside was my amazing ring! He then reassembled and rewrapped the egg to look virtually untouched.

Obviously, I said yes.

Thank you SwissmissVanity Fair Italy, Daily Mail, BoingBoing and blogs around the world for featuring our engagement story.