Summer Fun Jars

MerMagSummerFunJars1I have to give full credit to my cousin Crystal for this summer fun idea. For the Mudpuppy giveaway she commented:

"So this summer me and the kids made a summer fun jar so I don't have to be as creative everyday. Each week they pick out an outing, a food to make, and an activity to do at home and we make sure we do all three that week. "

Crystal I LOVE, love, love your idea! So of course we had to implement it here in our home as well.
 This approach to summer fun works really well for us. I often get super busy with work while it seems like our friends are gallivanting off to swim parks, camping trips and more. I've been feeling really bad for my little guys and have worried that their summer just isn't turning out as fun and exploratory as I'd hoped it would be. So when Crystal mentioned this idea, I thought, "Hey! I can do that!" This simple approach satisfies my little ones need for structure and planned events (especially my oldest who has been ansty non-stop ever since school let out) and also allows me the freedom to chose when the events/projects work best in my schedule. I don't have as much pressure to do something extravagant every day and the littles love looking at our calendar, looking forward to what is coming up next!
To make our summer fun jars we used old pickle jars (we are pickle fanatics here), covered the lids with decorative paper and affixed a label for each summer fun item, reading "LET'S GO, LET'S MAKE, and LET'S EAT." 

If you'd like to do the same, I've made some jar labels for you to download here.
MerMagSummerFunJars3Each Monday evening, during family night, we have our kids draw out one slip of paper from each jar. The kids then love looking at and discussing what types of things we have in store for us that week. In our "LET'S GO" jar I've put in outings to local hot spots as well as things we can do closer to home such as "have a BBQ with friends." In our "LET'S MAKE" (which could also be called "LET'S DO") I've placed a number of prompts for us to get creative such as "make a summer scrapbook" or "learn a new skill".MerMagSummerFunJars4Our "LET'S EAT" jar has been a huge hit (notice the explosive amount of papers in the jar). I decided that I'd finally do something with all the delicious food pins I've been collecting on Pinterest. So I printed out several pages of pins, cut them up and then placed them in our "LET'S EAT" jar. This is so popular we actually ended up pulling out two food items, one sweet and one savory each week (I ended up making another savory jar, not shown here).

*(You could also use this Pinterest approach for your "LET'S MAKE" jar. Just print out all the DIY's you've been saving up and start doing them! If you need motivation to get started, take a look at a few of the pins from Mer Mag).
MerMagSummerFunJars5The kids love looking at what we have in store to make and eat. Somehow it's so much more exciting than just reading it. For example, take these delicious Mint Brownies from Brooke of Inchmark. I've been dying to make these ever since she posted about them! And now they have been drawn and placed on the calendar. We will be making them today!
MerMagSummerFunJars6So when we draw a food item from the jar, we then go to back to Pinterest to get the recipe. All the ingredients to make that item then goes on our shopping list for that week. The kids loving doing this and I love that they are learning a bit about shopping and cooking (and if I'm really ambitious I can give a little lesson about money on our shopping trip).
MerMagSummerFunJars7And it may be a bit late in the season (unless you are in Cali where school just let out for the summer) but we finally made our summer calendar. My mother would do this for us each summer and we loved visually looking forward to trips, events and fun summer activities. It really made summer SO much fun. To make ours I simply took a piece of black poster board and divided up the space into squares with decorative washi tape. I then used white oil pastel to write in all the dates and days of the week. From there we simply taped it to the wall with more washi tape.

And when the boys draw something out of our summer fun jars, we choose a day of the week and then have them tape up the paper right to the calendar. They love it!
And now we need to prepare for our big summer fun activity... our annual trip to Colorado for the 4th of July! We are so excited! To see some of the great summer reunion fun we've had in the past, take a lookly lou here, here, here and here. This summer we are going with a traditional 1776 white wig, Betsy Ross type of gala. No fireworks though, due to all the fires in Colorado :( but I know we'll come up with something just as fun. Apparently my mother is making little white wigs for all the kiddos and I just can't wait!


Kids Pinwheel Necklace DIY over at Handmade Charlotte Today

MerMagHandmadeCharlottePinwheelNecklace1This simple and cute craft will be a will be the perfect accessory to your little darlings summer attire. For the full DIY head over to Handmade Charlotte.
MerMagHandmadeCharlottePinwheelNecklace2And a special thanks to our little friend for modeling. I think she looks just like an angel is this pic below.
MerMagHandmadeCharlottePinwheelNecklace3And thanks to her awesome mom Amelia. We had such fun on the photo shoot! MerMagHandmadeCharlottePinwheelNecklace4You can tell just how funny and spunky this little lady is in this pic. I think, like her pops, she's destined for the big screen!

Finger Puppets and Flip Draw book Giveaway Winner!

MerMagMudpuppyDollsWinnerCongratulations to Joy for winning my Mudpuppy Finger Puppets and Flip Draw book!

Joy wrote:

My five year old daughter, Edie, is dying over both the finger puppets and the flip book! Our favorite creative summer activity is to do all the messy art projects out on the patio.

To read more great creative summer activity ideas, just read the comments on this post. Thank you all for your support and inspiration!

Joy please contact me at merrrilee [at] hotmail dot com to send along your shipping address and I'll get these out to you. Thanks!

(applicants names were written down and entered into the drawing. If the person liked mer mag on facebook, their name was put in the bowl twice. Name was then selected randomly.)



 Melissa and I at the last Soel blogger party

Happy Monday friends! I had so much fun at the last meet and greet at Soel that I've decided to do it again! So if, like me, you will be heading to Provo tomorrow evening stop in and say hello. I'm hearing that the first fifty to the door get prizes...and each blogger will be gifting something as well. I have something fun in store!

Hope to see you there!


Sponsored By:


DIY Gradient Blocks over at Handmade Charlotte today

MerMagHandmadeCharlotteGradientBlocksHi friends! My next craft installment for Handmade Charlotte is up today! Head on over and see how you can make your own set of colorful gradient blocks. You'll love playing with them as much as yours kids do!

And don't forget to enter the giveaway to win two of my items for Mudpuppy. Like mer mag on facebook and you'll be entered twice!

Happy Weekend!


What I'm up to when the blog is slow...And a Giveaway!


**Update: Giveway Now Closed**

So you might have noticed the blog has a few lulls every now and again. This typically happens when things get a little crazy around here. You see, in addition to crafting, blogging and the typical mom stuff (soccer camp, art camp, music class, oh my!) I more than likely have a number of exciting illustration projects on my plate. And so I thought, instead of hiding out when this happens, why not share a few of them with you?! I do have an illustration blog, that is quite neglected and not at all updated regularly, but I think I might try to merge some of these things onto Mer Mag. What do you think? Would you be interested?
MerMagTuesdayMourningMudpuppyIllustrations2At the moment I'm working on a super super fun project! I can't disclose what it is but it involves horses and I just can't wait to share it! I also have a number of other book projects going on that are just so cute and so much fun! If you are interested in looking up some of my work, I illustrate under the "pen name" Tuesday Mourning. Long story but basically I just loved the name and enjoy it when artist personas are as whimsical as their work.

You might have noticed from this blog that I love children's toys and so when I have the opportunity to illustrate for companies like Mudpuppy, working on great projects such as these fun finger puppets and flip draw book, I'm just head over heels! I'm crazy for this kind of stuff, aren't you? And I have to say, you should get some, because they are so much fun! And better yet, super affordable. The finger puppets are only $6 and the flip draw book is $8! Perfect birthday gifts, if you ask me.
MerMagTuesdayMourningMudpuppyIllustrations3And guess what? I'd love to share some with you! I've decided to gift a set of finger puppets and a ballerina flip draw book to one lucky reader. What do you say?! Just make a comment mentioning one of your favorite creative summer activities and I'll enter you into the drawing to win these fun gifts! And if you like "mer mag" on facebook and I'll enter you in twice! (I know, I'm seriously a slow poke when it comes to social networking - just joined Instagram this past week - so I'm finally getting around to really sharing mer mag on facebook :)).

You have until Friday to enter. I'll then Announce the winner on Monday, June 25th!


Crafting for Handmade Charlotte this Summer!

MerMagHandmadeCharlotteArticulatedPaperDollsHello friends! I'm thrilled to announce that I will crafting over at Handmade Charlotte this summer! Yippee! Rachel Faucett, of Handmade Charlotte, has one of the best eyes for modern and vintage children's toys, crafts, games, clothes, you name it. If you are not following her deliciously inspiring pins, I suggest you start doing so now!

Today I am sharing a fun spin on the traditional paper doll. Hop on over the Handmade Charlotte to get the full DIY. It's the perfect thing to keep little hands from getting bored now that they are out of school!


Personalized Plates for Father's Day

MerMagFathersDayPlates1Last week A and I met up with with one of his newly favorite friends (and his super cool mom, whose awesome idea this was!) for the most perfect play date. Together we made custom painted plates for Father's Day at Color Me Mine, a DIY ceramic painting studio. We actually had the dad's with us but sent them away with the wee ones so we could work on secret surprises (Little O was having a hard time sitting still long enough to create, but I think he'd love this otherwise. He was entranced by the many many pottery options and just couldn't leave them be, so away to play in the fountains he went).

I always love creating custom pottery and find myself wanting to spend hours in these places, scheming up entire lines of ceramic ware. Lucky for us however we had two 5-6 yr olds to keep us moving right along.
A was more than into this project and loved picking out colors for his plate. I think having a buddy there with him just made creating that much more magical. He didn't hesitate to jump right into painting and I love what he came up with. He's really been into layering outlines of colors, one after the other in what ever shape the art material is in. So for example, he's done a number of rectangular book marks with several layers of colorful rectangles inside one another. And with this circular ceramic plate, he created a number of various circular rings stacked within each other. I really like his choice of bringing the black and green back into the color pattern right in the very center.

MerMagFathersDayPlates3As for the back of the plate, he enthusiastically painted the different portions of the plate (after trying for a dotted motif around the rim that just didn't turn out to his liking). He then wrote "DAD" in bold black letters and I just love it. I'm pretty positive that Jon will love it as well (who I've forbidden to look at this post until after Father's Day...so if there are typos it's because I didn't have my trusty proof reader to keep things in check for me on this one).
MerMagFathersDayPlates4I knew that I wanted to make something for Jon as well that could be from all of us as a family (and something that Little O could present to him so he didn't feel left out for not having a plate - although I'm sure I'll have him make something with his own hands just for Jon, at some point). After much thought and debate I decided it would be fun to do simple illustrated portraits of the kids. And if we are representing all the kids, I knew I had to put our baby girl to be on there as well, which I'm sure will make Jon very happy indeed. And I have to say, it was pretty exhilarating for me to do this as well as it really helped to sink in the idea that yes, we are indeed adding another lil' rascal to our bunch! Zoiks! I'm getting more excited every day! (which is a good thing because I also just get bigger and more uncomfortable as the days progress on. Boy I'm not looking forward to the hot months of July and August...).
MerMagFathersDayPlates2I finished the plate off with a "happy Father's Day" tribute on the back, commemorating this year, 2012. I think it might be a fun tradition to do one of these every year and show how the kids grow and change a bit each year. Wouldn't that be the most special collection ever!? I think I just might have to do this.
MerMagFathersDayPlates5And if you are wanting to do something similar for a special dad in your life, there are a number of approaches you can take. Like me you can grab some friends for a play date at your local DIY pottery studio or you can create you own version at home with a simple white plate and some porcelaine paint markers, similar to what I did for our 2011 Santa cookie plate (which I'll now have to update at the end of this year!).
And don't worry about perfection. I think simple stick figures could be really cute as well as having your Littles draw on their own version each family member (similar to what A did for his embroidered family portrait pillow). You'll cherish it!


OH BOY have we got news!

MerMagOHBOYNews1So if you didn't catch my very subtle announcement at the end of this post we are expecting!! And we couldn't be happier. The baby is due Oct. 4th and...MerMagOHBOYNews2
MerMagOHBOYNews3MerMagOHBOYNews4And we couldn't be more thrilled! The boys and I are over the moon to welcome a new little lady into our home. And although I'll be sure to keep up with the "boy" aesthetic and gender neutral crafts that you've all grown to love from Mer Mag, I can't deny that I might throw in a bit more femininity here and there. I think it will only broaden the range of fun stuff we can do, right!?
We're having fun thinking of names, nesting, rearranging things, trying to figure out how she will fit in our little home while already making a place for her to fit into our hearts. A swears he will "change her diapers" (we'll see how that one will go, I'm happy if he ends up being willing to throw them out for me). Little O is so excited and talks about how cute she will be. He's quick to point out every little baby he sees. Once he squealed when he saw a little baby girl and loudly proclaimed "Mom! Look they have a baby girl and she already came out!". And I dare say, I think Jon just might be the most excited of us all. He's sworn she'll never touch her crib (he'll be holding her so much) and he's even started a pin board for little girl clothing which just blows me away. It's pretty adorable to see really. And me, well I'm just looking forward to meeting her, learning about her personality and trying really hard not to impose all my girly dreams on her :). So yeah, I have a plethora of pin board ideas as well and I'm pumped to start sewing, sewing, sewing!!!

So any advice from transitioning from two to three kids? I'm a little nervous, I have to admit. And what about having a girl? This is all new territory for me! I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories!