I was approached by Custom Family Tree Art and asked if I would like to receive a custom-made family tree in return for a review.  I had been drooling over them for a while, so I jumped at the opportunity!

The trees are truly custom. You’re not simply choosing a template and entering in your information.  You get to make all of the decisions along the way and make it a piece of art that truly reflects your style and preferences.

I thought I’d quickly walk you through the process and let you see how you can design your own!

To start with, you need to decide what type of tree you want (descendant or ancestor) and what type of print.

The descendant tree would be a lovely gift for an older relative.  It would also work well if you wanted to choose one of your “favorite” ancestors and show all of their descendants through that line.

I personally chose an ancestor tree in a gallery wrapped canvas.  I wanted to show our family (my husband and I with our ancestors and our children).

They also offer standard prints, fine art paper, mounted and textured, and ready to frame canvas.  I like ready-to-hang. 🙂

I chose a  4-generation tree for a couple.  The other options were 4 or 5 generations for a single person.


2015-04-07_0004Once you’ve made your choice, this screen will pop up, and you need to download the form for the tree you’ve chosen. The process was very easy. Don’t be intimidated by having to download something to your computer.

CustomTree1I filled out my form, double and triple checking that I spelled everything correctly.  It would be just my luck that this was the moment I made a typo and didn’t notice it….


The next step is to choose which branch style you want. I chose style 1.

There is also the option to add roots to your tree.  Since I have 5 children, I thought that the roots would look nice.  If you have grandchildren, you can actually have two generations.

2015-04-07_0009You also get to decide if you want leaves on your tree. I like my trees full and green instead of winter bare – although they both look nice.

2015-04-07_0010The hardest decision for me was choosing the background color.  I was drawn to a few of the different designs and was stuck on making a decision. 2015-04-07_0007Here are some examples of trees.  Such possibilities!!! I really liked the blue sky with the ground, the dark brown, and the chalkboard. I went back and forth. And back and forth.  I’ll come back to this step later. They all look so nice, don’t they!

You can then add your family’s name and the year you were “established” on the left side.  You can also add a quote to the right. I did both. 🙂2015-04-07_0002


I chose this quote, since it was on the topper to our wedding cake and I’ve always loved it:

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be”

If you can’t think of anything special or clever to put on your tree, they have a page with suggested quotes to choose from.

You also have the option of putting a quote across the bottom of the tree.  Mine was already put on the right, so I chose not to add another.


Next is the size.  Think about where you’re going to hang your picture and how visible you want the names to be.  Will it be above your mantle? Near your front door?  You may want a different size, depending on where it will be displayed.

The choices are : 8X10, 11X14, 16X20, 20X24, and 24X30.  I got an 11X14 and it’s perfect for the space I chose to hang it (on a dividing wall between my kitchen and living room – a place where I can constantly admire it).

Always go a little bit bigger than you think you want it.  You would be surprised at how small an 8×10 looks on an empty wall.

You can then enter in my blog name on the referral tab!!  I’d appreciate it. 🙂

If you’d like the digital image in addition to your print, you can pay extra for it.

When you’ve done all of this, you simply upload your file and send in your order.

These are the three trees I narrowed it down to:


I polled my Facebook friends to see which they preferred, but when it came down to it, I made my own decision. I was really drawn to the dark brown.  I made my choice and put my order in.

I received my canvas in the mail a few days ago and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, the customer service was outstanding and the turn-around time was very quick. It came much earlier than I expected.

Secondly, I knew that I would like the tree, but I didn’t realize how much I would LOVE it!!  The quality is excellent, the colors vibrant, and the details make it so special.

Here it is!!2015-04-08_0006

Even the backing is fully finished and well made.  I unpacked it and hung it directly on the wall within minutes.



This would make a perfect gift for a loved one.  I know that it’s often hard to shop for presents – finding something that is meaningful.  Wouldn’t it be nice to give them something special?  Something they’d want to hang on the wall for years to come? Standard shipping is free through Mother’s Day by using the code SHIPFREE at checkout.

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It’s hard to resist sledding down a snowy hill.  These young girls got a bit more of a thrill than they expected though.

From the Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, dated 25 January, 1886:
2015-03-28_0001COASTING ACCIDENTS.
The rage for coasting on the streets, incited by the icy conditions of the thoroughfares, has been the cause of a few accidents, not as many, however, as might have been expected from the furious rate at which the sleds shoot down the hills. Yesterday evening a sled containing five or six young ladies collided with Dr. Haskell’s carriage at the Five Points on Belle street, and two of the coasters, Misses Mollie Thornton and Biddie O’Leary, were injured. Miss Thornton so seriously, by a cut in the forehead, that she was confined in bed today. Miss O’Leary escaped with a few bruises, the rest of the coasters were unhurt. Dr. Haskell attended to the injured ones. Finis Hindle, who was driving in the carriage, took every precautions against an accident and was told that the coast was clear just as he started across the slide. The coasters came down the hill so suddenly that it was impossible to get out of the way and the sled collided with the fore wheels of the carriage, the occupants being precipitated under the horses’ heels in such a position that it was almost a miracle that the accident was not more serious. Had not the horses refrained from kicking there is no telling the terrible results that might have ensued.

Did you ever go “coasting” when you were a kid?  I lived in the woods, on a dirt road, so there wasn’t really a fear of running into any traffic.  I was scared of running into a tree though!

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9 Dec 1970, Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Madison County, Illinois


Miss Nellie Jones, the first president of the Alton Chapter, Business and Professional Women’s Club, died at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at her home at 706 Royal St., Alton. She was 86 years of age.

She accepted a position as stenographer with Sparks Milling Co. in 1901, and retired on June 9, 1945, after 45 years with the company.

Born in Alton, Feb. 14, 1884, and resided in St. Louis over a period of years and attended schools in St. Louis.

She was a member of the Metropolitan United Church of Christ, the White Cross Auxiliary, and a charter member of the Travel Club.

At one time, she served as chairman of the Student Nurse Committee of Alton Memorial Hospital, where she had also served on the board of directors.

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First of all, this is NOT anyone in my family. I simply came across this article, because I was looking for someone in Kansas with the last name Weeks.

I couldn’t help but read it after a heading like that though.  I’ve been to Yellowstone a number of times – with small children.  I have always felt weird, walking along the narrow boardwalks (often without railings), over bubbling water or standing there, watching geysers spew hot water into the air. Nature is so unpredictable.


It’s one of the neatest places on earth, but it could also be a very dangerous one.  The article is pretty graphic, and it must have been a horrific way to die.

This article was from the Topeka Daily Capital, dated September 8, 1905.  I’m assuming that the pathways and safety measures have improved greatly over the past hundred years. If only everyone would follow them.
2015-03-22_0001Death Comes After Fall in Geyser

Miss Weeks, Who Broke Through Crust Near Hot Spring, Yellowstone Park, Succumbs.

Livingson, Mont. Sept. 7 – Death such as was inflicted on the martyrs of old by cruel Roman emperors who ordered Christians to be boiled alive, was the fate of Miss Fannie A. Weeks of Washington, who died here today as the result of falling into a hot spring in the Yellowstone National park.

Miss Weeks, with a party of other eastern tourists, was watching a geyser in action, and as the water spouted high into the air she stepped back to avoid the scalding spray.  The woman weighed 200 pounds and her weight caused her to break through a thin crust of earth which covered the hot spring.

Into the boiling water she sank up to her waist, and her flesh was slowly  cooked while her friends were trying to rescue her. The crust of earth broke about her, and it was some time before she could be reached. Meanwhile she stood, screaming with pain, in the boiling water until she became unconscious.

Finally Miss Weeks was dragged from the spring and hurried to the hospital here, where effort was made to save her life, but after two days of intense suffering she succumbed.

Miss Weeks, who was 50 years old,  was a clerk in the Treasury department in Washington.

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Virginia Cossaboon was my husband’s great aunt. I found this article, titled “Women of Achievement” in the 15 March 1936 issue of the Buffalo Courier-Express. She was a kindergarten teacher, and apparently very passionate about education. I love all of the details about her exciting travels and hobbies.  It sounds like she lived a wonderful life.

2014-12-26_0001THELMA VIRGINIA COSSABOON, kindergarten teacher at School No. 52, is president of the Buffalo Kindergarten Council and secretary of the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation. Miss Cossaboon enjoys children and loves her work with them. She brings to it enthusiasm, appreciation of the fine arts, and a wholesome, happy outlook on life that should give youngsters just the right start in school.

“Kindergarten is extremely important.” Miss Cossaboon maintains. “It makes the child independent, reliable, and co-operative, sows the seeds of appreciation of art and music, and above all else, teachers him creative expression.”

Appeal of Children

Miss Cossaboon is the sort of person who finds joy in everything she does, whether it’s playing the organ in her father’s church – the Methodist Church of Marilla – or riding down the Grand Canyon on the back of a mule which she did a few years ago. To her, the spontaneity and enthusiasm of children appeal strongly.

“I am fascinated by their complete freedom from self-consiousness and their unrestrained frankness,” she said.

Born at Alexandria, Va., she has lived in Western New York since childhood. Her father, the Rev. Nicholas Cossaboon, has been a pastor in Lockport, Buffalo, and other Western New York communities, Miss Cossaboon well remembers the donation parties that used to be given for her family. To her, as a child, they were thrilling events, with a trail of chickens, jellies and all sorts of goodies.

She is a graduate of Masten Park High School, the Buffalo State Teachers College, and the University of Buffalo. Since 1926, she has been a teacher of small children, first in the Lockport schools with which she was identified for two years, and subsequently in this city.

“Teachers,” she says, “are often misunderstood because some of them tend to carry over their classroom attitudes into outside activities. The precision, essential in giving clear explanations to pupils, may be applied to dress and manner or the frank criticisms and detailed direction of others may seep into friendship. But this is far less prevalent today than formerly; for teachers are developing more and more varied recreations and channels of expression apart from the classroom, and are making the most of their individuality.”

2014-12-26_0002Directs Church Choir

A musician of ability, Miss Cossaboon has been organist and choir director of the Methodist Church of Marilla for four years and was accompanist for the Crystal Quartet, composed chiefly of Chromatic Club members. Travel is another of her hobbies, and she believes in “seeing American first.” She passed the Christmas vacation in New Orleans, delighting in the hospitality and quaintness of that city. With three friends, she motored to California one summer, taking plenty of time for the trip, and stopping at the Chicago Fair and every art gallery or scenic place that appealed to the group.

Every weekend, she leaves her pleasant apartment at 378 Elmwood Avenue for her parents’ home in Marilla. She is active in such village organizations as the Graduates’ Association, composed of high school and college students completing the Marilla school course.

Music by modern composers ranging from De Bussy to Gerschwin interest her, and she likes to browse through all sorts of books from Don Quixote to contemporary poetry. Lighter diversions, such as dancing, skating, bicycling and golf also claim her leisure hours.

In 1934, Miss Cossaboon attended the convention of the National Association for Childhood Education, and returned to her work positively brimming over with constructive ideas.

She is a member of the Buffalo Women Teachers’ Association and Beta Mu Sigma Sorority.

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