[A little color theory for...]

Can I just say that any holiday that uses an overwhelming amount of saturated reds and pinks in it's celebration is OK by me?

As I was going through my Valentine inspiration files this year I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the powerful, strong colors popping off the pages. I was inspired...and the artist in me just want to dip my brush in and explore the variation and intensity of the wonderful hues.

So for this years Valentines cards, that is just what Little A and I did. We jumped right into a little "Color Theory 101", and ran with it.

I started us out by going through my acrylic craft paints, choosing a variation of beautiful reds (wine, cranberry, tomato, blood, etc.) and then threw in orange to warm things up and white to push us a little into the pink zone.

I then drew out a grid for us to place the various, scrumptious hues.
Little A got right to work. He was very interested in blending colors so we got to the pinks right away. From there I had him mostly work with one color at a time, blending here and there with other colors if he chose to. I was sure to point out the amazing, subtle variations that one hue, RED, could have. I also worked right alongside him, helping him fill in random squares throughout the grid.
He got really into it...taking things pretty seriously (as you can see here).
In no time at all, the entire grid was filled with delicious, eye popping colors.
It really was a little mini work of art. In fact, I almost hated the idea of cutting this up into little Valentines...I almost wanted to frame it and hang it on the wall!
Well cut away we did (but not until I scanned it in), creating little mini custom works of art for each of his classmates and teachers.
We then addressed the cards and fit them into business card size vellum envelopes (that I've had hanging around, and dying to use, for forever).
Of course no Valentine would be complete without a little candy, so we placed a decadent dove chocolate cherry swirl heart in each one (and can I just say yummy!).
I then added little conversation heart sayings to the front of each envelope using some of my favorite pens (these seriously come in SO handy. I'm addicted...and you will be too).
Little A and I had a wonderful afternoon creating these. In fact he's asked me a couple times since if we could make more valentines...
and hey...I'm all for spreading the love around...

...so much so that we have created a downloadable pdf version here for you to use if you don't have time to make one of your own. Just click here to get started.

(And if you are looking for more V-day fixes this year, check out our piratey Valentines downloads from last year (recently featured on Parent Map and Crafty Crow). They were a big hit with Little A's mateys!).

** All downloads are for personal use only. Please do not use for resale, or commercial production.


[the gifts of 2010]


When Jon and I were dating he made me a bouquet of paper tiger lily's for Valentine's that I absolutely fell in love with (a great way to score some serious points with a budding art student, don't you think?!). And it so happens that I fell in love with him as well...and things only continued to bloom from there. It's now sort of become our thing - in the past nine years (whew! I know, can you believe it!) he's given me various lovely botanical creations in paper, copper, you name it.


In spite of all of this, nothing could have prepared me for the absolutely incredible paper flower creation, inspired by paper artist Jen Stark, Jon gave me this past Christmas for our $0 gift exchange. When I opened the package I was completely speechless. I had no idea he'd gone to such lengths to create such a stunning and beautiful piece of art. I'm so enamored with it.

We're now trying to figure out how to hang/display it. I'm not sure if we want to keep all the extra paper that fans out into a spiral or if we want to somehow cut it off (Jon wasn't sure so he left it for me to decide). I like it...but then I also like the idea of the focus just being on the flower. What do you guys think? Trim it, or leave it? And how to hang it? (All the petals are cut out from the paper beneath. No paper is, at this moment, adhered to another).


[the gifts of 2010]


Jon and I decided we would loosely follow last year's $0 gift giving theme for Christmas 2010. Meaning: we would try create the gift with little or no $ but spending a little on supplies, etc. was allowed, if needed. I decided on a simple paper cut heart with a little saying that was meaningful to our family.

Our little family has a tradition of cranking up the music and joining together in an impromptu dance party. We do this whenever anyone initiates it. Someone cranks up a song and all are expected to stop whatever we are doing and go over to where the music is (typically on Jon's computer) and dance, dance, dance! One of our all time favorite dance party songs is the Yo Gabba Gabba's "Lovely, Love my Family" perfromed by the Roots.

So it only seemed fitting to use this song title for my gift. Jon loved it and we added it to our ever expanding wall of art (which is incredibly difficult to photograph well due to our "napping house" quality of light we've got going on here as well as the iridescent paint that the previous tenant put on the walls - which is very reflective...and I'm too lazy to repaint it...).


I also gave Jon a book of our 2010 Christmas photo shoot. There were so many great photos, thanks to Jordan, that needed to be recorded and enjoyed for years to come. I hadn't completed the heart cut out when I ordered the book so I simply added the title using type (although I wish it had the custom cut out letters).

The book did not fit into the $0 gift theme but I have to say I'm pretty proud of how much I did pay for it. I managed to purchase a $50 blurb voucher via Jasmere for $22 (score!) back in October. I was able to get a 12x12 inch book with the voucher and I couldn't be happier. I did end up paying a little more for matte pages, but with the discount, it was all still very affordable.

What a great way to record the happiness of this past year!

[Starting a New Year, and a...]


Happy 2011! I hope all of you are rested and rejuvenated after spending time with friends and family and ready to take a on a new year. I love this time of year...it's a great time for change, for renewal and for reflection. And don't you just love to look back and reflect on the last year? When putting together my 2010 Christmas cards I just couldn't believe how much time has flown. My boys are getting so big and life is speeding by. This year I really want to do all I can to slow down and simplify - so that I don't miss the most important things in life - such as taking more moments to really spend quiet time with my littles, enjoying their individual personalities and cultivating their unique talents.

Having said that, I've found myself entering the new year with a very full plate. I've got a number of exciting projects already in the works that will keep me pretty busy this month, but I'll do my best to stay up to speed here on mermag, and check in when I can.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2010 year! Here's to another one ahead!