Animal Character Badges for Gap Kids review and DIY

A big thank you to all of you that were able to make it out the the final Mer Mag + Gap Kids craft event this past weekend! Looking at all the photos of your little shining stars just makes me so happy. I simply love what they have created.

And if you missed this last Gap Kids craft, animal character badges, you and your little one can still make one at home.

To make these animal character badges, you'll need the following:

  1. 2" circle punch (or you can just cut out the animal images in a 2" circle by hand)
  2. 2" wooden circular discs
  3. Assorted colors of wool or acrylic felt
  4. Pinking shears and scissors
  5. Pin back
  6. Hot or cool melt glue gun with glue
  7. Mod Podge and brush or 8.5x11 printable sticker paper
  8. Fine tip pens or colored pencils for coloring in the animals
  9. PDF download of the animal characters
Start by printing out the animal characters on 8.5x11 white paper or white sticker/label paper. Then punch out your animals with a 2" circle punch (or you can adapt this to whatever size of punch and wooden disk you have).
Now, together with you little one, you can cut out ribbon shapes out of corresponding colors of felt.
To create the circular background for the badge, place a piece of felt behind your 2" wooden disc. Now take your pinking sheers and cut out a circle shape using the wooden disc as a guide.
Now that you have all the felt "ribbon" elements of your badge complete, you can glue them all a top one another with hot glue.
Now for the fun part. Break out the fine tip pens or colored pencils and have your little artist color in their animal.
You can now adhere the illustration onto the wooden disc with Mod Podge (or if you printed it on sticker paper, just peel and stick).
You can now glue on your pin back to the back of the badge.
Now your new animal character badge is finished and ready to wear! Pin it on your little star and let them shine!
And I just have to share a recap of the darling Gap Kids animal character badge events. I really wish I could have made it out to all of these events but seeing these great photos is almost just as good.MerMagforGapKidsAnimalBadges12
I completely love the colorful set up they had with all the different felt ribbons shapes alongside the rainbow of colored pencils. Just looking at this make me with to dive in and I can imagine our little creative friends felt the same way.
And just look at these little cuties working on their badges!
Just look at that focus. So so cute!
Love these color combos! and sisters! so perfect. 
And this little darling...well doesn't she just melt your heart?!
It's been so fun to work with Gap and A Squared Events on these projects. And such an honor to work with you and your little ones! I've loved every minute of it.

And if you missed the previous two Gap Kids Shine On crafts, you can catch up on them here:



Mark your calendars for the final Mer Mag + Gap Kids event tomorrow: Animal Character Badges!!

I don't know what it is about this last craft for Gap Kids, but I'm just over the moon about these animal character badges. I'm loving the badge/button/award trend going on and Gap Kids Military Prep clothing is perfect for this. Or put it on any of these fantastic backpacks or a jacket from the French Muse collection. I'm dying at the possibilities of cuteness.
So if you haven't already marked your calendars for tomorrow, I would do so now and visit one of the following Gap locations to make one of these fun badges!!

Saturday, 8/25: Make an animal character badge

from 10 AM to 1 PM

Participating Gap stores:

New York: 122 Fifth Ave
Los Angeles: 2111 Glendale Galleria
San Francisco: 1139 S. Main St. @ Walnut Creek
Chicago: 533 Oakbrook Center
Boston: 250 Granite Street @ South Shore Plaza
Miami: 19575 Biscayne Blvd. @ Aventura
Washington D.C.: 1100 S. Hayes St. @ Pentagon City Mall
Philadelphia: 690 W. DeKalb Pike @ King of Prussia
Dallas: Central Expwy & NW Hwy #738 @ NorthPark
Toronto: 100 City Centre Drive @ Square One



I seriously can't wait to see what your brilliant little creators come up with! And like always take pictures and share by using the hash tags #shineon and #clevergap.

And are any of you soaking up the fantastic online crafts that GAP has going on? This weekend you can make a sport patch to go along with your animal badges. How cool is that?!! Take a looky lou here.

Have fun shining on this weekend!!


Journal Making and a recap of Gap Kids journal Shine On event!

It's been so great seeing all the fun instagram photos from all of your feeds from the different Gap journal making events. I just love seeing what all the Littles have come up with!! It's so fun and inspiring.

And if you couldn't make it out to the journal event (or if you just want to make more!) I am giving you the super easy DIY instructions here. If your child is older, they could most likely do this entire craft, from start to finish, by themselves!
Start by selecting some fun patterned, textured or solid card stock. If it's not already 8.5"x11", cut it down to this size. Then cut at least 7 sheets of interior paper at the same size (or even slightly smaller - say 8"x10"). I like using graph paper for the interior as it give little journal keepers so many options for their personal record keeping. Drawing and creating patterns, alongside writing, can be a fun way for your little one to express themselves. You will also need some fun washi or masking tape for the spine and anything else you might want to pull together to decorate the journals: stickers, gems, etc.
Now fold your interior papers as well as your out card stock in half.
Then simply place the interior papers within the cover card stock. From here you can explore a number of fun binding options, such as punching holes and binding the spine with a number of sewing/lacing techniques. For the Gap events, we made things extra simple by stapling together the papers at the folded spine. It's best to keep the staples close to the edge but make sure you are getting through all layers of paper.
You can then have fun with different patterned washi or masking tape when taping off the spine, hiding the staples. Fold the tape over to the back side of the journal.
And now for the fun part! Decorating your journal. You can add a label for your child's name or pull out a number of fun stickers and decals. Feel free to get really creative!

I love the idea of creating a grid of ombre jewels or using the washi tape to create a monogram for your child's first name. You could also use the tape to create patterns, such as stripes or a plaid atop a sold paper, which could be really really fun!

And speaking of getting creative and having fun, just take a look at these little cuties and all of their journals! I so wish I could have made it out to one of the GAP Kids journal making events, but seeing these photos is almost just as good.
I love it when the kids add their own personal "stamp" to these crafts. For example, how brilliant is it to use the gems for a crazy jeweled eye monster like this in this drawing below? Nothing short of brilliant, I tell you. I think the graph paper also helps make these journals more boy friendly. Sometimes we associate journal writing girls (as we love to write our hearts out, right?!) but I think it's so important for boys as well, particularly when they are young. If they can find a way to express how they are feeling, with words and or pictures, it will do them a world a good in years to come. And honestly, I think my husband is a better journal writer than me at this point (my blog has kind of taken it's place for the time being).
If you have any pics of your kids at any of the events, or if you decide to make any of these crafts afterwards, I'd love to see them.

And don't forget to mark you calendars for this weekends Gap Kids craft! We'll be making animal badges that you will just love. I seriously am so excited for these!! I'll share more details on the craft and specific locations tomorrow but set aside from 10 Am to 1 PM on Saturday and you should be all set for now.


Back-to-School in Style - with a round up of our favorite go-to online shops!

//In this photo: A is wearing the Jackson Bear Tee from One Jackson / Children's Place skinny jeans//
A started school 1st Grade yesterday. And like so many, that means that we needed stock up on a great selection of back-to-school attire. What we have found works best for him (and for the elementary school playground) is an assortment of eye catching, graphic tee's, really great, comfortable pants and playful, sturdy shoes.

//In this photo: Tiny Whales Tee / Children's Place skinny jeans / Children's Place bold mid top sneakers//

I have to confess that I'm kind of obsessed with seeking out really great graphic tees for boys. Because of this I have found a number of great online sources that I will share with you at the end of this article. I don't know about you, but I've found that boys tees can have quite an impact when it comes to peer interaction in public school, particularly in the US. A's friends love to chat about their Transformer, Super Mario or Star Wars obsessions and proudly sport their loyalty with their gear. (In fact, A's desire to be more like his peers led us to this hair cut. He wanted it short and spiky and I of course am in love with it a bit longer. This was our compromise).

//In this photo: Bobo Choses Mahari jersey tee / Gap Kids Action Stretch denim jeansGap Kids green perforated slip-ons//

And I'm all about Star Wars and the like but I want my kids to have a little less pop-culture-obsessed upbringing so I try to seek out more unique, yet equally cool, graphic shirts for the boys to wear. And being an illustrator myself, well I just can't get enough of the unique and playfully drawn tees that are out there!

//In this photo: Gap Kids v-neck tee / Old Navy Pop-Color skinny jeansGap Kids green perforated slip-ons / Williams-Sonoma Star Wars vintage lunch tin//

And of course we love a good solid staple. Neutrals and brights are great for mixing and matching with pretty much anything you throw at them. Especially if you throw in some fun bright shoes or laces.

//In this photo: Mint green glasses frames from Mod Cloth (last season) / Gap Kids v-neck tee / Old Navy Pop-Color skinny jeansGap Kids green perforated slip-ons//

I've found that the key, when it comes to graphic tees, is that you have to find the ones that are somewhat off kilter or quirky but still shockingly cool - so that your kid will be intrigued and satisfied and the other kids will also want to inquire. Take for example this Peanut Butter and Jelly fish shirt from Tiny Whales (purchased on sale early this summer - I don't see any more in stock). A LOVES this one as the play on words makes him laugh. It's most definitely a favorite.

//In this photo: Tiny Whales Peanut Butter and Jellyfish Tee / Children's Place skinny jeans / Children's Place bold mid top sneakers//

 We also really love this Jumping Tape shirt from Threadless. A loves the humor of a cassette tape (something that is near unto an ancient artifact for him) jumping rope with it's own tape.
//In this photo: Gap Kids Military Prep Athletic Shawl Cardigan / Threadless Jumping Tape tee / Old Navy Pop-Color skinny jeansGap Kids green perforated slip-ons//

OK, so I mentioned that I'd give you a run down of some of my favorite go-to online shops for fun and unique graphic tees. And if you make it a point to shop the sales, you can get a lot of this stuff for a really great deal!

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Sweet William // They typically carry most of my favorite brands
  2. Tiny Whales // Fun and one of kind graphic shirts
  3. One Jackson //  One of a kind shirts from designers for a limited time - so things are always changing. You can even submit and vote on future shirt/clothing ideas.
  4. Threadless // (and have you seen the Threadless for Gap options?! So great!)
  5. Little Pinwheel // fun selection and great sales
  6. Little Bean // so much great stuff
  7. Minikin // great selection of brands
  8. Little Dudes Only // fun for when shopping for just boys
  9. Black Wagon //  I've got my eye on these
  10. Minti // Some of the coolest shirts ever
  11. Mini & Maxiumus // they pair up with artists (young and old) and turn their drawings into cool t-shirts!)
  12. and an ever favorite, Pinecone and Chicadee (still need that muscle man T!)

There are so many really. These are just some go to's for me that barely scratch the surface of what is available out there. Anther great tactic is to type in your favorite kids brand, Such as Mini Rodini, and see what online shops carry their stuff. And then hit up their sales!

//In this photo: Basic Grey Backpack decorated with black permanent marker / Mini Rodini jeans//

And of course no back-to-school wardrobe would be complete without a backpack. I could easily get obsessed with all the many fantastic backpack options out there. But after looking around, we decided that we wanted to customize our own. So we purchased a simple grey backpack (found at Borders last year when the brick and mortar was still in business, but you could find one around at a number of places I'm sure) and pulled out our trusty sharpie. I remember it used to be all the rage to decorate your canvas backpack with a sharpie, so I thought I'd give a nod to my old-school days and do the same for A. I went with a simple feather/geometric motif, but you could really do anything. And of course, getting your kids involved is a great way for them to really feel like it's special and personalized.


 A had a great first day, if not a bit rocky at some parts (he told me he cried a lot), as first days go. I'm still getting used to the new format of having him gone all day and Little O gone for a few hours at a time every other day. It's nice to have a few moments peace but it's still a bit of a run-around. Most of A's friends are in another class so he's struggling a bit with that and I'm not crazy into his teacher's communication tactics so far, but we are all learning, right? Here's hoping we all get in a groove soon...just in time for it all to be throw out of whack with a new little baby in Oct! Eeek! We can't wait :).

I've also reposted our Tips for creating a great kids wardrobe here (so it's not so Easter centric).


  1. Have an assortment of some really great and simple staples that you can use to layer and mix-n-match (i.e. solid knit shirts, button ups, sweaters, French striped tees, staple jeans and slacks, dresses, skirts, etc.)
  2. Throw in an mix of vintage/thrifted goods to keep things fresh, unique and unexpected. I love the timeless quality you get whenever you introduce something vintage. And you can pretty much bet that now one else will have that same piece.
  3. Buy just a few unique, statement pieces from some of your favorite kids designers. They don't have to be outrageously expensive (I love to buy from Etsy) but don't be afraid to stretch just a bit on one or two unique shirts, that one-of-a-kind sweater, a stand out colorful skirt or those bright yellow pants that are sure to make any outfit pop. (And I confess, if you know another kid will be wearing it down the road, it makes more sense to buy a few pieces that stand the test of time both in design and quality). Read more about my thoughts on mixing high+low here.
  4. Make some of you own clothes! You don't have to sew to do this. You could dress up a few t-shirts with freezer paper stencils, freehand a fun illustration with fabric paint, or refashion thrifted finds. And if you do know how to sew, by all means, do it! Find whatever time you can to sew something special here or there. It will make a big impact on your kids closet. In fact, 75% of the clothing found in this years Easter ensembles are from past items I have sewn.
  5. Don't be afraid to play with sizing. I know that this might sound odd, but I'm telling you, don't feel like you have to stick with what the tag says. I know a number of t-shirts and jackets that look better a bit more snug than the tag suggests. And when you are working with skirts, capris and gauchos, well there is quite a range of sizes you can work with (adjusting the waist to fit of course). Just don't be afraid to try it. You never know what might end up creating the perfect balance. That slightly snug sweater from 2 years ago, slung over that boxy blouse, paired with a tutu and tiara just might be the right ticket. And if you don't like it, well just go back to what you were doing before. No harm done.
  6. Let your kids have a say in it. Oft times letting them mix that batman shirt with those tailored dress pants and flip flops turns out to be better than anything you could have preplanned. Kids are seriously some of the best stylists...seriously. In fact, I actually try to put together my little ones wardrobes to that they can pull out pretty much anything they want and it more or less works. And if not, well, just pat yourself on the back for fostering independence. (See that sliver of red sports shorts, worn by Little A, seen ever so slightly in this pic? Do I love how they go with that much adored Winter Water Factory top. No. Not really. But our house rule is that when you get home from school, you can change into whatever you want...so that means that Little A is wearing comfortable sport shorts pretty much every afternoon. But hey, if he stuck it out with the skinny jeans at school, I think he's entitled.) *Oh and another soap box side note: Having your kids give input doesn't mean you have to only have a wardrobe entirely comprised of Dora and Buzz Light year because that is what your kid is into and you don't want to "squash their identity". Well guess what, Nick Jr. or Disney already chose their "identity" and they are just responding to what they were exposed/enticed to (I can appreciate both of these networks btw, but just in moderation, and when using thoughtful selection) . You are in charge of giving them a gamut of options and have a great opportunity here to teach them diversity of design and trying new things.
  7. Buy fun/great shoes! An ordinary grey knit shirt with some simple dark jeans turns into the perfect outfit with paired with some really great orange converse.
  8. Just try it and don't over think it. Kids fashion should be fun, easy, unexpected, and a reflection of them! Sometimes it might look silly and others might not appreciate it. But hey, they are kids! You can get away with it. And fashion should be fun and just a little unexpected. I once had a friend tell me that "If I didn't feel just a little silly at first when trying something new, then I wasn't approaching fashion right".
So what about you? What back-to-school wardrobe solutions work for you and your Little(s)? And if you have some favorite go to places to shop online for graphic tees or kids clothing in general, I'd LOVE for you to share! We are always in the market for new finds and I'm sure so many would benefit from your insight.

(to see more back-to-school round ups you can go here and here. See what's inspiring us on Pinterest for boys here and for girls here!).



My Little O started preschool today. I can't believe he's old enough. I feel like A just went to his first day of preschool yesterday! A starts first grade tomorrow and we are equal parts thrilled and a touch melancholy that he's growing so fast. I love back-to-school though. it has long been one of my favorite times of year. It's a confirmation that yes fall is indeed on it's way. And nothing compares to the smell of new pencils, notebooks and erasers. And the promise of possibility and learning on the horizon...Don't you just love it?!

And I can't deny that I'm very much looking forward to a few hours to myself before this little girl gets here. It's already so peaceful. It's seriously amazing how much you can get done when kids are away, even if for a few hours at a time.

Oh and big thanks for all of you who went out to the GAP Kids Journal making event. From what I saw it was a huge success! And what a better companion to slip into your book bag before heading off to school than your very own personalized journal? And if you didn't see the flickr page of all the geo art photos, you're in for a treat. Take a look at it here. And I'm on pins and needles excited about the last GAP Kids craft we have in store. Your kids will be making animal button/badges that are just to die for. I think they are my favorite. I can't wait!

(cute monkey back pack from Old Navy last year)


Gear up for Journal Making at GAP Kids this weekend!!

Friends it's almost the weekend and that means it's almost time for another fun and crafty filled weekend with Mer Mag and GAP Kids! This Saturday your little shining all stars will be making their very own custom journal!

I love the idea of getting your kids into journal writing at an early age. My boys each have a journal and we try to have them write in it at least once a week. Little O can't really write as of yet but he can draw pictures and I can write in captions of what he says.
It's so great to look back at these to see what you children were interested in and what little thoughts go through their adorable heads. For example, A used to have a lot of imaginary friends. They have not really been around for the past year and I'm afraid I would completely forget about this stage in his little life if we hadn't written about them all and drawn a number of pictures of them (their names were Pusa - his absolute best imaginary friend - Tiger, Patrick, Weird, and more). I miss the silly imaginary guys but It think that now that Little O is an older playmate for A, his need for imaginary friends has diminished.
Little O's thoughts these days are very Mario centric. Right now it seems like there will never be an end to Mario talk around here but I'm sure one day he'll grow out of if and I'll love looking back at all pictures and stories we've told. (Can you guess what the boys will be for Halloween this year? I'm having fun trying to figure out how to get into that one...).

If you live by one of the participating GAP stores, I would highly recommend stopping in for some journal making and back to school shopping (they have some great sales and I love their selection this fall!).

Journal making will take place from:

10AM - 1PM

at any of the following GAP Kids locations:

New York: 85th & 3rd
San Francisco: Los Gatos
Los Angeles: Sherman Oaks
Chicago: Old Orchard
Boston: Natick Mall
Miami: Coco Walk
Philadelphia: Walnut St.
Dallas: Stonebriar
Toronto: Yorkdale

And like always, I'd LOVE to see any pics of your little ones creating as well as what their final journals end up looking like! Just email them over and I'd love to put them on the blog.
And don't forget to check out GAP's online line up of crafts. This weekend is sure to be a creative one!!


For Baby: Stocking up on Statements and Staples Part 2

I can't believe it's less than two months before baby girl will be here! Where has the time gone to? I feel like I'm not even close to being ready, in so many ways. And for a while there, I felt like I had nothing for her to really wear when she finally did arrive!!MerMagStatementandStapleswithPolarnOPyret2
But thanks to some of my favorite clothing lines, I've been able to gradually stock up on a great selection of statements and staples for our little baby girl on the way. Polarn O Pyret, just happens to be one of those clothing lines that I just can't get enough of. Can I just say that I'm am slightly obsessed with their clothing? They are so darling and equally durable.
I really love the brightly colored and patterned scandinavian flair that they have to a lot of their clothing. I also love how so many of their uni clothing items can easily swap between boys and girls, making these that much easier for us moms. In fact, one of my all time favorite shirts that I have from Polarn was initially purchased for my boys. You can see it here in our Christmas book advent calendar post. I can't tell you how many inquiries I've received about this shirt. I'm so in love with it and now that neither of my boys really fit it anymore, I can't wait to pass it on down to my little lady someday!
My dear friend Meta (who shot these adorable pics) is also a big fan of Polarn O. Pyret and so we decided to pool together a selection of girl clothes from them for this little photo shoot. And of course kid's clothing is just so much more adorable on cute little bodies, so we pulled in a few of our little friends, including Meta's daughter, to show these fun and colorful staples off.
Another versatile aspect of Polarn clothing, is it's sizing. Just look at how this darling turquoise polka-dotted dress (worn by a four year old in the top pics) transitions right into a shirt for a six year old.
Perfectly brilliant.
And the last thing about Polarn that I'm super into is their really great sales! Who doesn't love a killer sale, right? I think I need a few more back-to-school items for the boys and this 70% off summer clearance sale looks like just the ticket.

And speaking of back-to-school...are you even ready yet? I took Little O to his preschool Meet-the-Teacher day today and I just about cried (both out of how big my little guys is getting and because the place is just so darn cute...and I'm sure being pregnant had something to do with it). I still feel like I have so much to do before school starts, but ready or not, it's coming!

(*photo credit Meta Coleman of One More Mushroom).