Halloween Flashback: Carboard Tube Bat Treat holders

Happy October! If you have been following my blog at all you probably know that fall is my favorite time of year. The first chill of October whispers of boots, jackets, chunky sweaters and spooky Halloween fun to come. But this year, October also means that baby girl is coming! I'm scheduled to be induced Oct. 2nd and we are so excited to meet her and settle into life as a family of five.

And while we are settling in with baby girl I thought it would be fun to have a flashback line up of some of my favorite past fall and Halloween crafts - now complete with templates - so that making these will be that much easier!
One of my boys all time favorite Halloween crafts is this little cardboard paper tube treat holder. In fact, A saw me working on this post and asked if we could make more of these this year (Little O just asked if we he could have some candy corn treats). And with how simple they are I'm thinking we can definitely squeeze a few of these in before Halloween!
And if you want to download a template for the face, ears and wings of the bat, I'm now offering one here.
You can see the original bat treat holder post here.
Stay tuned for more flash back October crafts (and some new ones later this month!) complete with new templates. Oh and of course, updates on the new baby!!

Wish me luck!!



Liz's Mini Peplum top tutorial on Cotton and Curls!

Did you guys see the adorable tutorial Liz put up for the this cute mini peplum top? You will die and want to make a closet full, like I do! There are so many cute options for this top. Thanks Liz!!


Oh Baby...we've been showered!

This past weekend baby girl and I were showered with so much love! I feel so blessed to have been able to get to know so many incredible, talented and generous women this past year. Two such lovely women are Melissa Esplin and Stephanie Ford who threw this gorgeous affair (at Stephanie's utterly beautiful home).
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The event started off with a delectable spread of amazing food. Spicy and regular California rolls (a HUGE pregnancy craving of mine), incredible salads, chocolate donuts, out of this world chocolate hazelnut cupcakes (thanks to Alison! I think I need one right now...) and yummy vanilla Italian sodas.MerMagOhBabyShower4
And as if that wasn't incredible enough, throw in a group of magnificent, crazy talented and admirable women, and a perfect shower you have. So many dear friends that I've been able to make since we have moved here were able to attend. I have to confess, I can tend to be a hermit/homebody at times (OK, maybe most of the time) but I have seen the benefits of putting myself out there more and opening myself up more (something that is not always easy for me) for many more to get to know me. (It's one thing to open up on the blog...behind the computer...but it's an entirely different thing to let so many into to my real day to day life). It doesn't help that I'm so busy I feel like I never really have time for friends! But putting myself out there has been worth it and I've been so thankful to have met and made so many friends that have touched my life in some way or another. Many friends which you probably already know and love as much as I do, such as Sarah Jane, Meta, Amy, Alison, Meg, Michelle, Jen, Annie, Liz, Nicole, Sarah, Danielle, Heather, Amelia, Caroline...
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...and of course the lovely ladies behind the event, the amazing Stephanie (Sycamore Street stationary designer) and Melissa. They added so many touches that made this all so meaningful to me.MerMagOhBabyShower8
Such as this chalkboard drawing. Do you recognize the illustration from the Father's day plate I created with the boys? I just love that Stephanie drew this and then added the darling origami dress to the little girl on the way! So perfect! (and can we take a minute to think about the time that went into making all those little dresses for this garland! I love them so much, I've framed a few for the nursery).
And I think I'll have to do another post just on the incredible gifts these ladies shared with baby girl and I.
Can I just say that we have some serious vintage scouts here with quite the eye?! I need them to take me thrift shopping!
...and the hand made, thoughtful, creative and beautiful gifts were almost more than I could handle. (almost ;)).


(peplum top sewn by Liz Bryson)

We are some lucky ladies.
I can't think of a better way to welcome a little girl in the world than by sharing with her the joy of womanhood through friendship. So thanks ladies!MerMagOhBabyShower10b
Oh yes, and I can't forget the gents too...Brett Merritt, Jon's acting friend, and husband to Amelia was so kind to stop by as well (and we discovered a theme of geeky glasses going on here). And Larry, Stephanie's husband was SO kind in watching my boys (and then some) throughout the duration of the shower, as Jon was in a performance. MerMagOhBabyShower12
Needless to say I feel so grateful and so much more ready to welcome a new life to this earth and to our family. And Oh my, is it true that I only have one more week to go?! Eeek! (Well...I guess I do look ready to pop... :)

*(many of the photos shown here were taken by Melissa).


Passing on the Legacy of the Doll

Hello friends! Sorry it's been such a quiet week around here. I'm actually up to my neck in fun kids craft projects that I can't share with you quite yet (but can't wait until I can!). And of course I'm scrambling to get so many things completed before this little girl gets here - now scheduled to be arriving on Oct. 2 (if not before!).  Things have been bustling around here and there is definitely an air of excitement and anticipation in our home. The boys are just over the moon about the prospect of getting to meet their little sister and so are Jon and I.

Our space in our home is very small so we have been trying to find the best way to incorporate this little girl into the room with her brothers. It's been a little restrictive but I'm always up for a design challenge (I'm finding the "less is more" aesthetic is definitely crucial for this space to work, which is hard as we need so much more...). Little by little we are adding small touches of "little girl" into our home and our lives. Just one of those touches is the the introduction to the doll in our home, such as this darling vintage doll, with a new hand sewn ensemble, gifted to baby girl by my sister Lorajean.


The boys are trying to take this all in, especially A who has always been afraid of dolls (he insists that all dolls be removed from the guest room when we stay at my in-laws...he claims that they are looking at him and it makes him squeamish). That fear has now been translated into silly play where one of the boys will grab this doll and chase the other one around the house with it, giggling and threatening to scare one another. Oh boy. We've had a few chats about how we need to respect little sisters stuff and how this might make her sad in the future, etc....but we'll see how much it sticks (and I can't deny suppressing a few giggles and eye rolls of familiarity when thinking about teasing older brothers, who will torment and pester their sister one minute and then defend and protect her in the next breathe...something I know a thing or two about - having just such an older brother).


Well her brother's are going to need to get used to a few dolls around here because one thing I've been dying to delve into is the world of the doll. Well OK, I've sort of been into dolls for perhaps my entire life...and I just may or may not already have a small collection of them (that the boys have never seen). In fact, when we were found out we were expecting our third I told Jon that I was going to have to buy this blonde Blythe doll for the baby if it was a girl...and if it was a boy, well then the doll would just have to be for me :). (We didn't get the doll...yet....).

You see this affinity for dolls is really a part of my legacy. My mother was (and still is) a doll artisan of sorts. I grew up watching her make dolls and she has experimented with a wide variety of mediums from porcelain to cloth. I can remember watching her pour the porcelain into tiny hand molds and was mesmerized when I would watch her take tiny paint brushes and create little lips, eye brows and if it was a cloth doll, even eyes. She was also very picky about which dolls she would purchase for myself and my sisters. She would inspect them from top to bottom to see how they and their clothing were made before ever jumping into a sale. They had to have just the right look and design, or forget about it, we didn't get them (we never had Barbies - they didn't make the cut). She somehow ended up with five girls all with different hair colors and we all loved how our dolls would often match our hair color (I always got the lighter brunettes). I think my mother secretly loved having an excuse to purchase an entire line of dolls that she was really into. We each had a Fisher Price "My Friend Doll", a Hasbro's "My Beautiful Doll" (got to love those 80's clothes!), and I can still remember the Christmas when we all got our own Lady Lovely Locks Doll...yeah, that was a good year.

My sisters have also carried on the legacy of the doll in their own lives and in their own ways. Lorajean even makes her own darling doll sculptures. I've enjoyed creating a few dolls of my own and have quite a number of ideas for the future. Needless to say, I am excited to have an opportunity to carry on this legacy of the doll...in our our own way. And hey, if I every veer into "creepy doll lady" territory, I'm confident my boy's doll aversion will be sure to keep me in check ;).

What about you? Does your family have a craft/design/toy legacy that you want to pass on? I'd love to hear about it!


Back-to-School Lacing Bookmarks

Back-to-school for us always means a lot of reading (yippee!!) so the boys and I came up with a lacing bookmark craft to make the daily read that much more enjoyable. To see how to make your own, head on over the Handmade Charlotte for the full tutorial!
We are now in the process of trying to rearrange the boys small room to fit this new little girl (who is due to come is just a couple of week! ah! :)). One thing that I've wanted for a long long time is a wall full of books! I'm not sure we have to room to do it but I'm trying my best to see what I can do to make it work in some form or another. Because books are just so important to us.

Being a book illustrator (for the past 10 yrs or so-you can find my work under Tuesday Mourning) I've been collecting children's picture books long before I ever had any kids of my own.
In fact, we have a couple of collections. The first includes books that the boys can pull out and look at and read on a whim and the other is a collection of some of mom's favorite books (many of them from a past trip to France where I shipped a HUGE box of beautifully illustrated books. Precious cargo I tell you.) These ones come down on occasion and are read and loved but they have to go back up so that they stay in pristine condition. Yeah, I'm sort of a nut that way. Someday I'll pass them down to the kids and I'm hoping they will love and treasure them as much as I do.

Right now one of our favorite books is Big Rabbit's Bad Mood, by Ramona Badescu and illustrated Delphine Durand (one of my favorite French Illustrators). We love following Big Rabbit's adventures with his big and hairy bad mood following him around everywhere. A well written and perfectly illustrated book about dealing with your emotions...completely genius (I find it as helpful as the boys do! To personify a "bad mood" is really rather therapeutic).

For a bit older readers (A is really getting into chapter books and both boys love listening to them) I'm also a big fan of the Maggie Brooklyn series right now, written by Leslie Margolis (OK perhaps just a little bit because I did illustrate their covers). I love a good super sleuth young adult novel and one that takes me back to my Brooklyn days...well it's nothing short of perfect.

What about you? What gets you and your kids motivated and in the mood to read? And what are some of your favorite books at the moment? I'd love to hear!


Complete Milly the Mermaid doll pattern (with additional hair and skirt option!) in the shop!

As a continuation of Sarah Jane's fantastic Out To Sea fabric blog tour I'm offering the entire complete Milly the Mermaid doll pattern in the shop!
This downloadable PDF pattern is for a 20 inch Milly the Mermaid pattern, complete with instructions. Milly can transform from sea to land with both legs and a slip on mermaid tail! Milly's hair can also change up as this pattern includes options for two different hair styles that can be taken on and off with Velcro. Milly also comes with a pattern for a darling bodice and skirt.
 So many fun dress up options!
This pattern is appropriate for those with intermediate sewing skills.

The PDF pattern will be sent to the email address associated with your etsy account unless otherwise noted. You will receive the pattern within 24 hours of purchase.

And what's even better...visit Sarah Jane's blog to get an exclusive discount code towards you very own Milly the Mermaid pattern!

And like always, I LOVE to see any creations made from Mer Mag tutorials so I'd especially love to see any mermaid dolls you might make! Share them on facebook, twitter and instagram and spread the mermaid making love!


Milly the Mermaid Doll Basic Mod Doll Pattern with Out to Sea Fabric

Have you guys seen Sarah Jane's new adorable fabric line, Out to Sea? If not you are in for a real treat!!

And as part of her incredibly fun blog tour, I'm offering up a doll pattern, based on my Mod Dolls, for you to create your own mod Milly the Mermaid doll!!

In celebration of the the Out to Sea tour, for a limited time, I'll be offering a FREE downloadable pattern and instructions for the basic Mod Doll itself. Tomorrow I'll be offering the pattern for the mermaid ensemble, complete with instructions and additional hair and skirt options, in my shop! And can I just say that I love that you can take her tail off and change up for another option at a whim?! She can be your real life little mermaid!

Purchase the full MILLY THE MERMAID pattern HERE

And you know that if you make one, I just have to see it! So please do share your darling mermaid creations when they are complete :)!!

and stay tuned for the limited release of the mermaid ensemble tomorrow!!

(and I've no doubt there will a number of many more outfits for our little Mod Doll in the future!)

*Update: The simple Mod Doll Pattern is no longer available for free download but you can purchase the entire pattern, complete with mermaid tail, top, skirt and two types of hair here.


Home is Wherever I'm with You: New Print in the Shop

Last month Jon and I celebrated our 11th year anniversary.  Crazy. I sometimes feel like we are the same young rock-a-billy kids who fell for each other so many years ago. I mean just look at that pompadour on Jon. How could I resist this cutie? I'm not sure what was going on with my fashion, but I think I was trying to channel the "skater girl" look? Who knows really ...anyway...those were the days, right?

On one of our first "dates" in college we walked around my neighborhood for hours into the night. We just walked and talked about our dreams. How we wanted to travel, create art, perform, change the world, you know all that sort of mushy "you just might be the one" type of stuff. We definitely had the rosy colored "starving artist" glasses on and I'm pretty sure we were both hooked from that night on.
Being freelancers - myself an illustrator, creator, and kids craft blogger, etc. -and Jon an actor, director, teacher etc., life together has definitely been an adventure. It hasn't always been easy - not having consistent income, stability, etc. - but I think it's the only kind of life either of us can really live (otherwise, believe you me, we'd change things up in a heartbeat! Security and comfort is so NOT overrated, especially with kids).

Throughout our journey together we've been able to travel and live in some pretty incredible places. We started our second year of marriage in NYC and loved it. I think we will always hold a special place in our hearts for NYC. So many things happened for us there and the friends and experiences we had there are unforgettable. We then switched gears and headed south to Knoxville, TN for Jon's graduate school. We bought our first home and that is where we had A (how has it been 6 years?!). Needless to say, this time of our lives, being first time parents, is very special to us.
Then Jon graduated and it was off to LA to dive right into Hollywood. We loved living in South Pasadena and we of course had Little O there. My boys loved Cali and still talk about their friends, the beach, the sun and of course the myriad of exciting amusement parks that were available there. Jon and I also made some wonderful friends who mean so much to us.
We have now moved on and Jon is living his dream as a college acting/theater professor. And let me tell you, he's a natural at it - students love him and he's most definitely in his element in the classroom. In addition to illustrating, I've loved where blogging has taken us and I'm so grateful for opportunities, friends and associations I've been able to make through Mer Mag. Baby number three is about to arrive and we are thrilled about what the next chapter in our life has in store for us (even if we are just a tad bit freaked out about it!).
So as you can see, we don't seem to stay still for very long. In fact, we sort of have a joke that we have a three year limit. When three years hits (right when we're feeling settled and at home) we start getting antsy and life calls for a change of scenery. With kids however, we do hope to find a spot we can call home for a longer period of time (especially for A who doesn't like change so much at all). But in the mean time I think the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero's song, "Home is Wherever I'm With You" pretty much sums it up for us.

So as a gift to Jon, I created an original paper cut out based on this song (which we of course both love). I wanted it to be a companion piece to the I Lovely Love My Family paper cut out art that I gifted him a couple of years ago. (I think we have a thing for songs in our family...)
And just like the Lovely Love prints, I'm offering a selection of "Home is Wherever I'm With You" prints (in all the same Lovely Love colors!) in my shop for you to also place in your homes (wherever they may be!). Skip on over to the shop to take a look!

And what about you? Any good stories about how home has come to mean more about who you are with than where it is you live? I'd love to hear them!


DIY Hand Stamped Swaddle Blankets

I can't believe I only have a month (or less) left before our bitty baby girl arrives! I've been trying to do my best to prepare for her arrival amidst all the many things going on here - back-to-school, illustration work, blogging and more! Little by little things are starting to look like a baby just might be coming to stay in our home soon.

Last week I decided to create a few hand stamped swaddle blankets made out of a gauzy muslin fabric. I like how simple they were to do and how graphic they turned out.
To make these I cut up large squares of muslin fabric. (I referenced Dana's tutorial for this). I then used black fabric paint and a handmade stamp to create the pattern.
The trick for me was to apply the paint to the stamp with a paint brush before stamping onto the muslin. I got much better stamping coverage this way as opposed to when I just dipped the stamp right into the paint. The coverage of was still varied a bit but I actually like this as it gives it that "hand stamped" feel.
After hand stamping the blanket to my liking, I hemmed the edges of the muslin.
I then created another one from a pretty salmon pink fabric found on my LA Fabric District shopping spree (I think it's the same fabric as Dana used in her tutorial! what are the chances?). I then used a rain drop stamp for this one...which admittedly looks a bit like watermelon seeds with this color of fabric.
Rain drops? Watermelon seeds? You decide. Either way, I'm so excited to swaddle and cuddle up my little girl in these when she arrives!
Now to find a crib...and perhaps a rocking chair...and...


DIY Paint Chip Feather Crowns for Babiekins Magazine

One of my all time favorite online (and now in print!) kids magazine, Babiekins, asked me to create a kids craft for their current issue! I could not have been more thrilled.
Channeling my current love for beautifully colored paint chips I decided to use them to create these simple and darling feather crowns. Head over to Babiekins for the full DIY!
And a special thanks to Meta, of One More Mushroom, who helped with the prop styling and photography for the tea party shoot. Didn't it just turn out so adorable!
And another big thank you to all of my little models! They were just too too cute for words.
And I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for a little tea party now. A perfect way to transition from summer to fall, don't you think?