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?!


Crafting for Rubio's Studio: First Installment, The Friendship Tree

Have you guys heard of the new kids show, Ruby's Studio?! If not you are in for a real treat! It's a great kids show that is perfect blend of fun, helpful, endearing, playful and, thank goodness, not too cheesy. Oh, and best test of all - Little O loves it.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when one of the founding mom's, Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in creating crafts for the kids to do on the show. After familiarizing myself with the company and the show, I felt like it was a perfect fit and couldn't have been more on board. And now I'm over the moon about sharing this show, and our crafts, with all of you!
Out now is a delightful episode about friendship, which you can watch now by purchasing here. In it you will see just what you need to create our friendship tree.
And as is always a thrill, I love seeing these little ones take this craft and make it their own. Seriously so great. Oh and can I just say that I want Ruby's studio. I mean isn't it the coolest? Perfectly designed to inspire creativity. Makes me want to get my craft on right now!

If you think you might be interested in this great show (and I know you will be!) take a look here. The premiere Feelings show is really great too. And stay tuned because both Ruby and I have a lot more episodes full of fun crafts for your little ones!


Our DIY IKEA RIBBA Picture Ledge Tree

I wanted to do something different with our Christmas tree this year and after a recent trip to IKEA, I knew just what to do. Using IKEA's Ribba Picture Ledges Jon and my brother Kenton (who was in town for Thanksgiving) helped to make my vision come to life.
I was hoping to post on this much earlier but with baby girl in the hospital all week last week (with RSV - she's doing much better) things got put on the back burner a bit. But let me tell you we've loved having this tree up (the boys too! I was afraid the wouldn't think it was as cool as a real tree but they tell everyone about it wherever we go!) and it was just the perfect thing to calm our hearts when coming home.
To make this tree we purchased three 45.25" RIBBA ledges, two 21.75" ledges and one of the small ones for the very top. Because of course this would be temporary, I decided to use Command Strips to put it up. Worked like a charm. We laid out all of our shelves to decide just how large we wanted this. In the end we came up with the following measurments:

top shelf: 9"
2nd shelf: 15.5"
3rd shelf: 23"
4th shelf: 30.5"
5th shelf: 38"
6th shelf: 45.25"

The cuts were simple and quick to make. To install, we took a look at our wall and determined that we wanted 12" between each shelf. Then using our Command Strips we put our tree up. We used a total of 6 large strips for the lowest shelf, 4 for the next one up and so on, adjusting according to the size of the shelf and what we wanted it to hold.
We then got out our holiday trimmings and decorated our new tree! The boys love it! We just have to advise them not to play with their toys on the shelves too much (yeah right! There's a good reason why the styling is off a bit on the bottom shelf ;).

I also recently tried another variation by adding all of our books from our advent to the shelves (something I actually had in mind from the get-go). I'm super happy with the results but I will advise that if you are trying to go this route, I might secure the shelves to the wall with screws as the Command Strips might not be quite strong enough.
This project was so much quicker than I had even originally imagined so you definitely could still do it this holiday season. There are so many different ways to go with this and the decorating options are endless. I already have an entirely new deco scheme planned for next year! (or maybe I'll do it this year...you never know what mom's going to rearrange around here).


Crafting for Design Sponge: Bleach-Dot Clutch

When Kate Pruitt, of Design Sponge, asked me if I wanted to contribute a few DIY crafts for us older "kids", just in time for the holidays, I jumped at the chance. You know that I'm completely enamoured with kids crafting but I welcomed the chance to kick up the sophistication a notch.

This week I will be sharing with you how to create your very own Bleach Dotted Clutch. This would seriously make the most perfect gift and trust me, it's very easy to make.

Hop on over the Design Sponge for the full DIY. But be careful, you just might fall in love with this so much, you'll want to keep it for yourself!

(and OK, since I just can't help myself, you could do this with the Littles too - particularly the 8 and up crowd. Just supervise the bleaching part. Otherwise it's seriously a great "learn how to sew" project! Perfect little pencil pouch.).


Our 2011 Christmas Cards

Hi Friends and happy Monday. I can't tell you how happy I am to start another week. Baby M is out of the hospital and just about over her RSV. Not a fun stint...but we are happy and mostly healthy now and glad to be out of the woods.

I wanted to share with you our Christmas cards from last year (top image is the front of the card, bottom image is the back). We did them so last minute that I didn't have time to share them last year. It's fun to remember these times and what a happy year that was. It's crazy to look at these two little rascals and think that there was ever a time when it was just the two of them. Baby M has already melded a place within all of our hearts and we can't wait to share this season with our sweet little girl. And I can't deny that I'm just a wee bit excited to delve into dolls, doll houses and the like. OK, I'm down right giddy about it.

So what about you? Are you super on top of getting your Christmas cards out early? I think we have a picture for our 2012 cards, now I just need to nail down the design (or order some from a company?). One of these years I'll make the card top priority and go all out...but for now, it's lucky we even get them out to family and friends by the 25th. Oh well, maybe next year...


Kids Gift Guide: Toys We Have and Love

I always love to see what sort of toys my friends recommend and in turn what their kids really love to play with. So fellow toy enthusiasts, Meta and Stephanie and I agreed that we needed to swap recommendations, and of course, in turn, share them all with you!

So here's our tried and true list of toys we own and quite simply, love.

a. Charlie and Lola's An Extremely Wintery Winter Activity Kit. This is one of those toys that you purchase for the holidays on a whim but don't expect it to be the super big hit that it ends up being. I mean my boys LOVE this game. Little O asks me to get this out I'd say possibly 2-3 times a week. Winter or summer they love to get this out and the spin the spinner to see who dresses their character up in winter gear first. Oh and the book and snowflake stencils are also lots of fun. Tip: draw in the clothing items with permanent marker to corresponding numbers on the spinner for easy identification. Your kids will be entertained without your help for at least 20-30 min!  b. Brio Anti-Virus train set. I admit that it's harder to find items for this train set these days but let me tell you, if you are a train enthusiast, this set is soo great, and worth the hunt. This hub is a great place to start. Everything also corresponds to all Brio train sets (and really most any train set) so you don't have to purchase everything to start having fun with it. My boys have loved putting it together and collecting all the virus characters and the electronic "emails" that get transported around the track which then make fun silly noises when placed into the slots. Loads of fun. You can see little O playing with our set here in this old post. c. Charlie and Lola dvds. OK, more Charlie and Lola fun. Can you tell we are enthusiasts? The boys love it and I'm a fan of how sweet, funny and educational it is. And the best part? It's a show that can play in the background without grating on my nerves. A dream for road trips to grandmas house. d. Push and Learn Alphabet Bus. This has been such a great find for learning the alphabet. The boys have loved placing the little animals into their corresponding puzzle slots and the wheeling them around in the bus. And I've love that it still looks good when strew across the floor. e. Montessori Pink Tower. OK so I'm sure you know that we are Montessori enthusiasts. But whether or not you want to delve into the educational philosophy, I still highly recommend their pink tower. It's educational for many different learning levels. And I love that it's one of those toys that you can leave out on you living room shelve and it still looks good.  f. Domorino. We love getting out this bamboo tile take on the popular domino game. It's both fun and simple enough to play over and over again.  g. Voltron Robot Print. My good friend, and talented graphic designer, Brooke Daines just started the company, South and Summer, where she offers these really great prints of vintage toys. We are just over the moon about this Voltron print (which takes me back to some great childhood memories). h. Mudpuppy Finger Puppets. OK, so admittedly I'm biased about this toy (as I illustrated them) but my boys, no lie, love to get these out and play with them. I love how they fit nicely into your purse and can be pulled out when you need to stand in line at the post office for longer than anticipated. I also love their monster versions and have plans to add these to either the advent or their stockings this year. i. String Along Lacing Kit. Not your average lacing activity, this is hand down a favorite. It can keep A entertained for at least a good hour. I kid you not. Need I say more?  j. Centimeter Cubes. These are great for teaching simple to complex math concepts. Or just set out a bucket of cubes on the table and see what your littles create with it. So fun!  k. Mudpuppy Flip Draw Books. Again I'm biased but I will say this. My boys are not really into ballerinas but when I brought this home they couldn't wait to color in the different pages and were especially fond of the blank pages in the back where they could create their own versions. I'm thinking St. Nick. needs to bring them the monster or robot one.

Take a look at One More Mushroom and Simply Radiant's tried and true gift guides here and here!


Kids Gift Guide: For the boys

This week I'm teaming up with good friends, and fellow toy enthusiasts!, Meta, of One More Mushroom and Stephanie, of Simply Radiant, to share with you some fun gift guides. Earlier we shared our girls wish list/gift guide with you, (you can view Meta's here - so adorable! drooling over that dear doll), and today we're sharing what we are dreaming up for our boys (although a number of these items are gender neutral). 

So this knight print - I'm just dying to get it for their room. And I can't even begin to imagine the elaborate things that Little O and A might create with these fun blocks. We are record fanatics around here and I seriously love this player. This logical game is right up A's alley and I'm pretty sure Little O would never leave this teepee (aren't you just crazy about the colors?!). And I can only image the fun that the boys and their papa could have with this. A would be "over the moon" about it I'm sure ;). And are you not dying over this fox scarf? Little O might actually stay warm this winter if he could play with his winter gear.

a. hexagon colored pencils (you can use the entire pencil!)  b. whale grid notebook (we're big fans of grids!)  c. yellow felt lion (i'm a sucker for handmade unique softee's and this one is just the right mix of cute and cool) d. Metroville  e. wooden building slats  f. totem mini mix spider  g. lancelot art print  h. teepee  i. record player  j. fox scarf  k. Spekt-R

You can check out Meta's gift guide for Henrik here (that lumber jack hat just slays me) and Stephanie's for her two boys here (I want a magical crystal growing kit!)! Such great finds ladies!

**and for an update on sweet baby M, well we are still in the hospital (she has RSV) but hope to go home tomorrow as she's doing much much better! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.


A Holiday Gift Guide for Baby M

Hi Friends. Happy Cyber Monday. Have you been doing any online shopping?

I typically have a BOGO shop sale today but Baby M and are sitting here in the hospital as she has acquired a bad case of RSV so things have been a little stressful and shop sales are on hold for a bit. In the mean time I thought it might be fun, and a bit theraputic, to share with you a a gift guide that I've been dreaming up for our little darling girl.

It's full of fun finds from some of my favorite artisans and shops. Like this polar bear rug/blanket by my incredibly talented friend, Roxi Marj. I'm kind of obsessed with it and think that baby M has to have it as a tummy time/play mat. And once I discovered I was having a girl I knew that she would have to have a le train fantome Lumi doll as I've wanted one since...oh...like forever. But as this one will need to be a bit more of a keepsake, I think she'll also need a little Ozzie rabbit softee for her to snuggle and nibble on while she's still a wee babe. And of course she'll need a dollhouse and think this modern one will do the trick quite nicely. And I've wanted these geo blocks for like, forever. And well, I'm pretty sure baby M needs them. And I'm not sure whether or not she needs this sleep time hat more or if I do but either way...we both need to catch some zzz's. Here's hoping we're out of the hospital in the next day or so and in the clear...because we've got some holiday preparing to do!

a. sleepy time hat  b. Ozzie the rabbit  c. modern doll house  d. roxi marj bear blanket  e. lumi doll  f. geo blocks

And for more holiday shopping fun check out Meta's gift guide for her daughter here. And for the rest of this week I'll be teaming up with One More Mushroom and Simply Radiant to share some of our wish lists for our kiddos as well as some of our favorite tried and true toys and gifts we own and love. So stay tuned!