New Blog Design and Site!

OK but I've been crazy excited to share Mer Mag's new blog site and layout with all of you. I've had a great run with blogger but I'm looking forward to a new adventure with my new site here on mermagblog.com. So please come on over and join me here as that is where we'll be from here on out.

And be sure to check out the new rainy day pillow wall hanging I made for Baby M along with a few snap shots of her new little corner of the world.

And now I have to kick up my heels and head on out to ALT! Such a fun and buys week in store. Follow me on Instagram for updates and catch me over here for a full report of when it's all through. Oh and wish me luck with my panel on Collaborating with Brands! So much fun info to share. If you are coming, stop on by on Thursday morning to say hello! Would love to meet you.



Little Bits: An Attempt to get Organized

One of my very favorite things about a New Year is the clean slate and the push to reorganize. You take down all the lovely Christmas decor and then you see your home in a whole new light and the itch to orgazine, to decorate, to make house, etc. starts to make itself known. And I love it.

The Little's room has slowly been progressing and I've loved adding a bit of girly touches to the the boys already colorful scheme that we have going on. I currently have it designed so that all three kids are packed together like sardines in the same room but we'll see if things stay that way. Presently baby M is still in her basket in our room but is rapidly growing out of it. Yet I'm nervous to put her in with her brothers straight away. Let's just that Little O is a bit over-excited about the whole big brother thing and I'm not sure he'd ever leave her alone.
We'll have to see...But whatever we end up doing, you can bet that January's focus is all about home decor and reorganizing! Hooray! Like these bookshelves that we finally put up. So happy to see our books and artwork up and making a fun bold statement in the kids room. Makes my heart light every time I enter in. They are, admittedly, a tad cluttered at the moment, but that is what I get for having too many kids books and items for display! I'll have to work out some sort of rotation schedule of sorts.
Now to conquer the opposite wall. The trouble is that I have so many ideas that I just can't settle in on one. My favorite one at the moment will take a bit of time...but will end up so great I think...We'll just have to see...

Either way...I'm super excited to get my home in order. The itch is strong and I'm more than happy to address it. What about you? Do you get the itch to re-decorate or organize in the new year?


New Business Cards...that you can play with!

Friends I've finally buckled down and made some bus cards for Mer Mag. And I have to say...I'm head over heels in love with how they turned out! Rowley Press did a phenomenal job of letterpress printing and I'm one happy happy happy gal.
And with all things Mer Mag...well it just wouldn't be as fun if you couldn't recycle it and turn it into a new toy to play with, right?! So that is just what we did.
After saving all the Mer Mag info into your smart phone, you can cut out this fun bear on the back, assemble and play with him! So fun right?

Oh and these have a new blog address on them...which could only mean one thing...Mer Mag is getting a face lift! And soon!!
And as ALT is...next week!...I'm happy to say that if I pass out while speaking during my panel ;) I'll at least have these lovely cards for you to remember me by.
So if you are attending ALT, please do stop by my panel (should be fabulous really, some great speakers lined up) say hello (and perhaps an encouraging word or two? :)!! I'd LOVE love love to meet you in the flesh.
And now I better get back to packing and preparing...so much to do...so little time! Eeep!


Christmas 2012 Recap: and some hand stamped PJ's

So yes, we are well into January...and visions of pink and red are on the horizon with the holiday of love just around the corner...but I'm just a wee bit in denial that the Christmas season is indeed over (we finally took our tree down and put away our Christmas records *insert sad tear here*). But as I mentioned here, I do love me a new year and am ready to embark on some great new journeys! The future looks bright my friends!

And that future is starting strong (and busy!) with some super fun illustration jobs, preparation for ALT - did I mention I'm speaking?! - and so much more. But as my blog is also a bit of a journal I feel I can't move forward without documenting just a bit from our joyous Christmas day.
I'm sure I probably feel this way as it is the most recent event, but for some reason, this last Christmas really felt like the best one yet. Just something about it was simply perfect. Perhaps it is because it was one of the few years where we actually awoke in our own home and celebrated the morning with just our own little family. Or perhaps it was because of our perfect new little addition, baby M. Or perhaps it was because all I really wanted in the world was to spend one perfect day just with my dear family, completely focused on spending time with one another. Probably a bit of all the above. But whatever the reason...it was...well...perfect.
We spent Christmas Eve with Jon's parents and didn't get back to our place till late that night, so the boys actually slept in on Christmas morning, which was perfect. Jon made an amazing sausage and egg baked dish to keep our tummy's happy while settling down to open our gifts. I was on top of things this  past year and had been collecting gifts for the boys throughout the year and I even had a lot of it wrapped before Christmas Eve. A record for me. It was oh so nice to embark on December knowing that most of the shopping was done (and ended up being oh so necessary as RSV made it's ugly rounds throughout our household). I did however have a number of last minute things to do, such as hand stamp these long john's for the boys Christmas PJ's. I seriously made them on Christmas Eve morning, willing them to dry in time for me to wrap them so that they could open them later that evening. It somehow managed to work out perfectly. And I laughed when A squealed in delight when opening his after his brother...proclaiming "yes! they are different!". Good thing I made two different stamp motif's. Who knew it was so important?

This year was also really great because I feel like the boys really got into the spirit of giving this year. Not only did we pick out gifts for each other but I had the boys really get involved with selecting gifts for my brother's family (we had his name this year). This meant that they had to think of their cousings, go to a store, pick out gifts for them, buy them and go home with no toys for themselves. I was seriously worried about Little O on this one as he's incredibly in love with toys (he feels like they are his friends that he develops deep bonds with). But you know what? He was amazing. He was head over heals in love with this snugly puppy dog that he knew from the beginning was to be for his 2 year old cousin. So throughout the store he played with it, cuddled it and befriended it, but all with the plan of giving him away. And it worked! He loved the idea of him going to his cousins house. He actually understood that this was a special thing he was doing for his little cousin. It was a gift. Amazing (and serious mom sigh of relief here).
Above are the wrapped gifts that they gave to me and I love how excited they were to give. Such sweet boys. Jon let them pick anything they wanted to give me (within reason and budget of course) and A picked out some lip gloss and Little O picked out a brush. So sweet. And it turns outs, just exactly what I needed. I had them pick something for Jon as well so they chose an Angry Birds game for him to play on the IPad (which of course they wanted to play with as well). They also got a few toys for their baby sister.
And OK, I got just a wee bit excited to embark upon the collection of beautiful handmade dolls for baby M. Yes she won't appreciate it for a while yet but I love the idea of telling her the story of her first Christmas and the special doll that she received then. And in truth, she was my little Christmas doll. Our family's favorite gift from 2012.

2012 was a wonderful year for us and we are so excited to embark on a new year with our little family of five. So so many exciting things for our future and I feel incredibly blessed to share it with those that I love and with all of you!


Our Colored Duct Tape Craft DIY's now on Parent & Child blog!


Remember our fun line up of duct tape crafts for Scholastic's Parent & Child magazine? Well you can now access them online here. So fun! Really great line up of fun indoor crafts you can do with your kiddos while stuck indoors this winter. So hurry and go check it out!MerMagParent&ChildBlogPress2


Our Mountain Pillow in the Design Sponge Best of 2012!

I'm finally catching up with all my reading and saw that our mountain pillow made it into the Design Sponge Best of 2012 round up. So fun!

Have to say, it's one of our favorites from last year as well. Makes me happy every time I walk by it.


Happy New Year!!

Happy Happy New Year Friends! I don't know about you but I'm ready to clean the slate and start this new year off on the right foot! Don't get me wrong, 2012 was great, full of wonderful opportunities and new additions (such as our very favorite, this little bug shown here) but I just love me some time to reevaluate, make some changes and get pumped to start up again. Don't you? And to do so we always choose a theme as a family for the year. I like to do this so that if some of my specific goals fall through the cracks, say oh about a couple weeks after I make them, then I always have a simple theme to fall back on...one that is easy to remember the entire year through...and one that will hopefully guide us through until the end of December.

I'm also big on alliteration. I find this helps me remember my theme even when it's July and starting fresh and goal making is not so much at the forefront of my mind.

Some past favorite themes have been:

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Relax (remember this one?! still a fond favorite)
  • Creation and Compassion (tried to focus on creating more and consuming less and then reaching beyond myself and showing compassion to those around me)
  • Friends, Family & Fun! (this one might seem like a no brainer but for a workaholic, creative hermit like myself I needed the reminder that the most important things in life are bonds you form with those around me. I needed the push to put my relationships in life first. And to have FUN doing it! Turned out really great.).
  • Last year was all about Thriving...thinking this year might be a bit along those lines as well. Can't wait to nail it down!

What about you? Any resolutions? And what do you do to try to keep up on them after the will power to make it out the door to the gym subsides?


Modern Snowman Blocks

It's a serious winter wonderland outside right now. And that can only mean one thing...that it's time for snowman building!! And OK, yes the authentic frolicking in the snow and assembling Mr. Frosty with mittens and frostbitten noses is a great way to go...but I'm thinking once that in through, we need to come indoors for some hot cocoa and a much warmer snowman building of sorts.
And this simple modern snowman is just the ticket. I was over the moon to find these large blocks at our local craft store (thinking some more mix-n-match um's are in order with these puppies) and knew that our friend Frosty needed to come to life.

We kept it super simple with just a set of eyes, a triangle nose and some buttons. We made them with our favorite craft supply de jour, duct tape, but you can paint yours on if you like. Have fun with it!

My mother-in-law has a great after-Christmas tradition where she brings out all things wintery and snowman related to keep the after-holiday blues at bay. I love this idea. And our simple frosty block friend is just what we need to keep us merry and bright, even when the tree comes down.

What about you? Any after Christmas/New Year traditions that help keep your spirits up? I'd love to hear what you do and any great tips you might have. Thanks!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us over here at Mer Mag! I hope you had a most lovely holiday and are gearing up for a great new year.

This year has been incredibly good to us and we feel blessed to have shared it with all of you. We have so much fun in store for 2013 (ALT! We are working on our first kids craft book!! - maybe a facelift for Mer Mag, etc.). But first we are happy to reflect on the joy and peace we feel this season. There is so much to be grateful for - new babies, happy times together, fun opportunities here at Mer Mag and much much more. We thank you for going on this journey with us and hope to share more times together with you in the new year.

Love, peace and joy to all of you.



Magnetic Figure Skater Toy Download in the Shop!

School is out for winter break and if you are like me, you need fun activities to keep little hands busy, busy, busy. Well expert figure skaters, Sebastian and Sadie, are here and ready to help with that!

To get started, purchase the download here for only $3.99, complete with both figure skaters and three tree shapes. Print out the figure skaters (I recommend using fine art heavy card stock or taking the file to your local print shop for the best quality of print) and cut them out. Cut out support tabs and glue long vertical strip to back of skater for support. (I find it's also helpful to add a piece of thick foam or cardboard for additional support).

Now using hot glue, adhere magnet to the bottom of the flap of skater

Once the glue is dry you are ready to try out your new skater on the "ice"!

To create your ice rink, take a large discarded cereal box and place it on it's side. You may cover it in white butcher paper before hand if you like, leaving one end open. Create slits in the box where you'd like your trees to go. Print out tree shapes. (You can keep them as is or cover them in black duct tape as we did here). Place large tongue depressors to the backs of the trees. Now you are set to place your trees within the slits you created in your large box.
Place your skater a top the box and than place a corresponding magnet within the cereal box and directly below the skater. Magnets should meet up. You are now ready to move your skater around on the ice! So fun!!

These make a great stocking stuffer or craft/toy to play an create with friends and family members during these winter months! Hop on over to the shop to get started on your very own skaters now!

(download will be emailed to you after purchase)


Bear Mug and Scarf DIY's over at Design Sponge

If you are like me you relish the season of scarf wrapping, boot wearing and cocoa sipping. And if you have this cute little handmade bear mug greet you each morning with your favorite warm beverage, well 'tis the season to be jolly indeed!

So head on over to Design Sponge for this weeks DIY gift idea. This little guy is so super simple to make. I promise. You'll be able to mark off quite a few gifts on your list with this furry buddy!

And because we know you might still have a few last-minute gifts to check off that list, we are sharing not one, but two DIY's with you this week! This no-sew hand stamped scarf is the perfect thing to make in an afternoon.


And don't be afraid to let little hands help with the gift creating and giving. But be careful, they just might look so cute in your creation you'll have to keep one just for them.


Christmas Village with Duct Tape and Tissue Boxes

Good morning friends. It's snowing outside of my window as I type and it's looking like it just might be a white Christmas indeed. Yippee! Which means, after the snowball fights and snowman building, it is the perfect time to come inside, sit snugly indoors and create with my Littles.

I don't know about you but this time of year often brings about a case of the sniffles. Which means we have have number of tissue boxes lying around the house. Well the Littles and I discovered just the thing to do with them. Make a little Christmas village, using glitter and duct tape of course! So that is just what we did.
To make the structure of the roof tops, we just cut up a few other tissue boxes (or any other discarded cereal box, etc.) and created the roof shapes atop the tissue boxes. We then proceeded to cover them with the duct tape and then had lots of fun decorating them!

We were so excited to find this gold and silver glitter tape, from Martha Stewart, at Michaels, and knew right away that it needed to be used in our little village. I love how it makes the shingles sparkle and come to life (and an extra bonus - it's really easy to cut).
I also played around with our hole punch a bit and was able to create polka dots with the gold duct tape by spreading out the tape onto parchment paper prior to punching. With a little finesse, they turned out great! (In fact we have updated our duct tape cutting methods altogether. If you lay it out on the parchment, you can get a really nice clean cut with scissors and create just about any shape your heart desires! Best thing about it: the Littles can be more involved in the cutting stage now! Yippee! I'll have to do a tutorial of this new cutting method on the blog soon).
And our little vintage wooden angel is just the perfect friend to inhabit our little village. Makes me want to create a few more wooden friends for her to carol to.
And how cute would it be to cut out the window and door shapes and then add a few battery operated tea lights or even a strand of white Christmas lights on the inside? I just might have to do this variation in the next day or so. Would be so magical indeed!


Lorraine's Gift Guide

Friends the Christmas countdown is on! But if we act fast we do still have time to purchase a number of items online. Which is why I'm sharing with you a great gift guide from one of my dear friends (who just happens to have incredible taste and two crazy adorable boys) Lorraine Galvin.

Here's what Lorraine has to say about her picks.

1. Tree Hopper Jalopies:  These look so cute!  I love the natural wood and handmade feel of them.
2. Magna Tiles: I have been waiting for Christmas to buy these because they are a little pricey. Warren plays with them at preschool and a dear friend suggested that I get a set every Christmas to build a collection.  I've already ordered and wrapped these! I can't wait to see what they create with them.
3. Animal Hand Tattoos.  Warren loves these things and we've been giving them to his friends for their birthdays.  I love the designs- and they are only $5.99 at World Market.
4. Jellycat Noodle Fox: My kids each love their Jellycat and sleep with them every night.  One has a blue elephant and another a giraffe.  I've been eyeing this Jellycat Noodle Fox for a while, I think it's so cute!  (I know Jellycats may seem like old news, but they are tried and true with my kids. They sell them at Anthro too!)
5. This clothing line just launched and I'll admit I couldn't wait until Christmas for my kids to wear their new Munkstown gear. Belts, pants, and sweatshirts are available as well.  Love!  (psst...psst....Lorraine's sister in-law is one of the founder's of this new line and it's incredible. we are huge fans too!!)
6. I LOVE South and Summer's graphic prints.  My favorite is the airplane and my kids favorite is the robot.

Thanks Lorraine!! I'm so excited to know about Jellycat's. They may be old news to some but I had never hear of them. Such great picks!

What about you guys? Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping yet?


Mountain Pillow DIY over at Design Sponge

Hi friends! Today I'm sharing with you my love for all things alpine and snow peaked with this cozy little mountain pillow for your home. Head on over to Design Sponge for the full tutorial!


Simple Paper Strip Wreath DIY

The boys and I have been crafting up a storm around here to get into the Christmas spirit. And there's nothing we like more than simple easy crafts like this paper strip wreath.
1. To make this we used the cardboard from the bottom of a frozen pizza (yes with the new little baby in the house we've been having one too many Papa Murphy's as of late...we all can't wait until mom gets back into the culinary swing of things...). We then cut up a bunch of strips from scrap paper we had lying around our craft room to be used as the foliage of the wreath.
2. A then traced a bowl onto the cardboard
3. and I used a utility knife to cut out the middle circle section.

4. To create the wreath A began by placing strips of paper along the center of the wreath
3. He then continued outward, choosing between a variety of green colored strips.
4. Until he reached the out edge of the cardboard where he finished off the wreath.

This was such a great craft for A (6 yrs) as he's really into repetitive patterns. And I loved it as you really can't go wrong. No matter what how you place things, it's sure to be appealing in the end

And we couldn't of course stop there. Little O wanted in on the action and we made this fun variation with a paper bag we had lying around the house. 100% recycled craft. Loving that.

And as you know I do love me a good circle punch, so I had to have a go at a snowball wreath as well. I'm just loving how all the textures of the papers pop out on this one. We then took the inside cardboard and made snowballs with them. Yeah, we got a bit carried away...but that is what is so great about these wreaths. The variations are truly endless and they are so easy and quick to put together, you just won't be able to resist doing all of them!MerMagCirclePunchWreath3


Duct Taping with Parent & Child Mag

Happy Monday friends! Have you seen the latest issue of Parent & Child magazine yet? It's full of some really great stuff. A few months ago they asked us to share with you some great duct tape crafts that you can do with your little ones (of all ages) and we are so excited to see it out.
Meta was my go-to for props and photography and she also had some great connections for little models. Like this twin brother and sister pair who modeled the belt and headband craft.
Are you not just in love with them?! They were really great to work with (in another lifetime I want to have twins :)).
And do you recognize this little cutie? She made an appearance in my Babiekins headband tutorial. Darling girl and a natural in front of the camera. She's seriously one of the best I've worked with.
And I have to say, this little cat purse just might be my favorite craft in the article (but it's so hard to pick just one!). Check out Parent & Child's latest issue, on stands now, for full instructions.
(Oh and Little O was excited to make the cut and finally see himself in a magazine as his older brother has had his own little dose of print fame. The above photo didn't make into the magazine but I think it's just oh so sweet.).

And as it is the season of giving, wouldn't these be the most perfect gifts for your kids to make and gift?! These are seriously some great, simple and affordable hand made gifts for you kids to get in on the spirit of giving! Something we all want to foster within our kiddos, right?!