The gifts of 2011...

I wanted to share the gifts from our Christmas 2011 zero-dollar-gift-exchange earlier but I'm afraid I caught that pesky flu bug that I was so hoping to avoid. But I'm now alive and well and ready to jump right into the new year! If you have been following my blog you know that Jon and I have been doing a zero dollar (or at least in principle) gift exchange for the past couple of years. We decided to keep on with the tradition this past Christmas as we have really loved the thoughtfulness and creativity that has come out of it. And this past year did not disappoint.
For my gift to Jon, I wanted to do a portrait of both Jon and I together, something I've wanted to do for some time. In 2009 I painted a portrait of Jon using Acrylics and I had promised him that the rest of the family portraits would be coming along shortly thereafter so that we could have a family portrait wall. Well...that's still in the works. I did, however, manage to create a watercolor portrait of the two of us holding a banner that reads "together forever". OK, maybe a little cheez for some, but I have to say it holds special meaning for us. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this past year and it's been a time to reflect upon this great journey we are on. So many of our friends have struggled to stay together and many have divorced. We know first hand that marriage can be hard at times. Yes, even we have had our times of trial, but we have vowed to stick it out, through thick and thin. And this past season I have so enjoyed reflecting upon all of our wonderful, magical and magnificent times together...and was so thankful that we both have made the commitment to stick it out, so that we can continue to have more of these moments...pretty much for forever. If you haven't already been introduced to the blog, A Blog About Love, authored by a darling friend of mine, Mara and her husband, then you had best be on your way over. It offers so much insight on what it means to truly love and to truly be happy, no matter what is going on in your life (Both Mara and Danny had previously been married and they share their journey and love story on their blog). Here is one of my favorite posts to get your started. Consider it my New Years gift to you, it's that good!
Jon's gift to me was nothing short of incredible (he always surprises me!). OK, so to give you some background, we recently got hooked on the first season of Project Accessory. Jon's not a Project Runway fan (oh, but I am :)) but he was not only able to tolerate Project Accessory, he actually got rather into it. He couldn't get enough of all the welding, metalworking and so forth. So for his gift to me he decided to do a little metal jewelry working of his own. Cool right? But just wait until you hear where he got his supplies...
We spent Thanksgiving with Jon's family this past year. After Thanksgiving, he and his brothers have a tradition of going out to the shooting range with all their no-longer-in-season pumpkins and have a marksmen competition, leaving no poor pumpkin unscathed. Well, my creative husband was thinking ahead and when he saw all of the discarded brass rifle cartridges lying on the ground, he quickly picked them up and pocketed them away for future creative Christmas endeavors (he was SO much more on the the ball than I was!). He and his brother later took them back to the shop and cut, sanded and pounded them down into beautiful rectangular brass scales. He then drilled holes in them and connected them with jump rings and attached a chain to hold them all together. And the result was nothing short of amazing! - and dare I say a little dangerous? (And almost nearly free!).
And if that wasn't enough, he wanted to have a go at a brass cuff (all the rage on Project Accessory this last season) and I love the result. Oh and he threw is some amazing earrings he made as well (not pictured here because I was starting to feel really pathetic for not making him more gifts...OK, not really, I just didn't get a photo of them). Yeah, I'm one lucky girl. Together Forever is sounding pretty great, right?

And for the boys, well I wanted to make them as least something for Christmas. I didn't manage to sew their pajamas this past year and the boys asked for things in the ballpark of Lego Star Wars and Super Mario Bros...neither of which have inspired much creativity in me yet, so I didn't have anything creative in the works for them. But it just wasn't feeling like Christmas if I didn't make something for them. You see I grew up with a full scale Santa's workshop going on in my house in the month of December and let me tell you it was pretty darn magical. My father made us girls 2 doll houses and 1 doll castle, a full blown model train and table for the boys - just to name a few projects- and my mother was always at her sewing machine making dolls, doll clothes, play clothes and more. So I just couldn't finish the year out without making something for my little ones. And this little mix-n-match up block set is what I came up with (highly inspired by my Easter mix-n-match-um pals).
To make these we went to Home Depot and purchased a 4x4 fencing post which Jon and his brother Steven then cut into 4x4 cubes. Jon then sanded them down and I painted on some fun little pals. It was, not surprising, a little young for Little A, but Litte O still really enjoys it and I love what it looks like in their room.
It was a fun and creative Christmas and I'm already chock-a-block full of ideas for 2012!


  1. Sooo sweet. Your painting is adorable and the jewelry is fabulous. I wish my honey and I were crafty enough to do something like this!


  2. Mer - DYING over this entire post :)
    Your blog just amazes me every time I look at it. Of course that is no surprise, as you are one of the most amazing ladies that ever came to Brooklyn. I am in love with the your painting, the blocks (!) and holy heck, J is a genius with that jewelry. Amazing. You guys are just awesome. Wish we could hang out again. For now - time for me to start collecting your books!!

    -Mara {A Blog About Love}

    (P.S. Thaannks for the shout out on the blog. So sweet of you & so happy you're enjoying it!)

  3. We also do handmade gifts and I LOVE it! I guess I'm going to have to start watching Project Accessory...sounds amazing! All of your gifts turned out beautifully :)

  4. I totally want to try out the mix n match blocks. I think we'll try the "be creative" and spend no or little money as possible on each other next Christmas. It just makes you think more and you treasure the gifts you've given to each other.

  5. So inspiring and so amazing!! I love the portrait and the jewelry.

  6. Awesome Awesome awesome!!!!!!!! Jon really out did himself and thats saying something!!! that block toy is super super cute!!! I love the color scheme of it and the style of the illustrations!

  7. You're an inspiration Mer. Love ya.

  8. These gifts are just the sweetest. And thanks for reminding me about A Blog About Love.

    Hope you're enjoying the weekend.

  9. The block animals! Such a cute idea. I also admire your philosophy on gift giving.

  10. Wow, all of these gifts are unbelievable. My littles 2 yr birthday is coming up and I'd love to give the blocks a go. What did you put in the middle of them to keep them together?

  11. thanks Monica, you should definitely have a go at it!

    as for the blocks, they are actually free standing so you could actually put the head on the bottom of you wanted. We thought about drilling a hold down the middle of them and placing them on a dowel that is secured to wood base, so that is an idea. hope that helps!

  12. What did you put though the center of the blocks?
    So that they can turn 360 between each other?

    Would love more details! So creative!

  13. Hi Ashley! I was just mentioning to Monica that the blocks are actually free standing so you could put the head on the bottom of you wanted. We thought about drilling a hold down the middle of them and placing them on a dowel that is secured to wood base, so that is an idea. hope that helps!

  14. wow! as always I am blown away by your and Jons talents! both gifts are amazing!

  15. beautiful picture! what a testament to love. :)

  16. Have you seen this Super Mario Playhouse? I could deal with this design...

  17. I just shared your handmade gift tradition with my husband. Love it! You both give such beautiful, special gifts. It's really touching.

  18. Daniella, my littles would go NUTS for this! thanks for sharing!

  19. these gifts absolutely blow me away! what an amazingly talented family you have. My first time to your blog, but certainly not the last. found you via a post on tumblr. Happy New Year!

  20. Awesome! I have seen the first season of Project Accessory too, and you get pretty inspired. (Also love Project Runway.)

  21. those blocks are freakin adorable. Your designs on them are so modern and vintage at the same time. love them.

  22. Hi! As I continue to look at your blog and fall in love with it...I just realized that just a couple of weeks ago I purchased these adorable finger puppets for a friend's daughter. And I just read that you designed them! They are fantastic--I am just loving perusing your blog and getting inspired by so many ideas!

    1. Thanks so much! So glad you enjoy the blog and the finger puppets.