Butterly Leaf Mask

Butterfly Leaf Mask | Mer Mag

We made another nature leaf mask but this time we constructed it into the shape of a butterfly. The leaves in our yard are still greenish but they are starting to change colors are all around us and I can’t wait to try this again with oranges, reds and yellows! Butterfly Leaf Mask | Mer Mag

If you want to make one, you can find instructions on our previous nature leaf mask here.Butterfly Leaf Mask | Mer Mag

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume | Mer Mag

I’ve wanted to make a costume version of our Toilet Paper Roll Llama Craft ever since I made the little guys. And this year, with our Playful Cardboard Costume Contest, I thought it the perfect time to finally do it. It was fun and easy and only took a couple of cardboard boxes, some ribbon and a bit of paint!

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume | Mer Mag

To make the costume, you’ll need:

  • one cardboard box proportionate to the size of the person who will be wearing this costume
  • another cardboard box for the head and tail
  • thick ribbon or rope for the straps
  • decorative ribbon and yarn for the reins
  • acrylic craft paint

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume | Mer Mag

Making the Llama Costume:

  1. Cut a hole in the shape of the circle out of the top and bottom of the first box – large enough for the rider to fit inside. Glue down any top flaps together, making the holes stronger.
  2. Cut out a llama head and tail using the illustration above and photos as a guide. (I would suggest having the corrugation of the board going up and down as opposed to side-to-side for more strength in the llama’s neck). Make small slits to the base of the next where shown on the illustration above for interlocking purposes.
  3. Cut out slits on the front and back of the body box for the head and tail to interlock.
  4. and finally cut four slits out of the top of the box where you will thread your ribbon straps through (see illustration above as a guide)
  5. Paint all pieces of your cardboard llama. let dry.
  6. Weave through you thick ribbon through the top slits, creating straps (with a criss-cross in the back) for your rider to wear the costume. I might suggest measuring the ribbon when your rider is in the costume for a custom fit. Tie strong knots on the underside of the box slits so that the straps stay put and do not pull through.
  7. Interlock the head and the tail with the cardboard body. Glue in place of you wish.
  8. Add any decorative reins or yarn tassels for fun.

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume | Mer Mag

Miss M was utterly delighted by her new pet llama! She kept running around the room saying “giddy-up!”. Cutest thing ever really. Now all I have left to do is make her a Tiny Traveler Tilda costume so she can explore Machu Picchu with her alpaca friend.

DIY Cardboard Llama Costume | Mer Mag

In the mean time we’re loving this little toddler pixie bonnet knitted just for Miss M by Sweet K.M. Poncho and pant from Old Navy and moccs from Freshly Picked.

Inspired to make your own Playful Cardboard Costume yet? Halloween is fast approaching but there is still plenty of time to gather together a few repurposed items and make a creative costumes. Post in IG and tag with #playfulcardboardcostumes to be entered to win a HUGE prize package! Like seriously. We’re talking 2 copies of my book PLAYFUL: Fun Projects to Make With and For Kids, a $100 gift card to spend in my shop (which can go to a craft-along rag doll of you like!), a $100 gift card the the Oh Happy Day Party Shop, a $100 gift card to Freshly Picked moccasins, $100 gift card to Sycamore Street Press, $100 gift card to Sarah Jane Studios. WHOA. like seriously whoa people. That’s an unprecedented amount of prizes! and I hope you win one! So pull out all your cardboard boxes and get your xacto knifes at the ready and get making! You have until Oct. 31st to make a costume and enter the contest (It doesn’t have to be made out of cardboard necessarily, just think creatively and try to use repurposed items).

Playful Princess Costume

Playful Fair Maiden | Mer MagPlayful Fair Maiden, knights and tent | Mer Mag We did a couple of shoots for the Playful Fair Maiden in my book PLAYFUL: Fun Projects to Make With and For Kids and this particular shoot was one of my favorites but didn’t make the book. So I’m excited to share more of it with you now. I loved this field that we shot in and the kids really had so much fun playing little country nobles. Playful Fair Maiden | Mer Mag 2013-07-10 Playful Knight Dressup Smock 0172013-07-10 Playful Knight Dressup Smock 235 Playful Fair Maiden | Mer Mag

Your little heiress with love helping with the paper mache crown and dabbing her wand in pots of glue and glitter. You could find full instructions in my book Playful.

Playful Fair Maiden | Mer MagPlayful Fair Maiden | Mer Mag   (more…)

Play Hospital & Child’s Nurse Costume



A little while ago Lakeshore Learning contacted me and asked if I would set up a play area using some of their wonderful learning toys. I have been going to Lakeshore Learning every since my nine year old was a toddler and we love their emphasis on learning in fun and playful ways. So naturally I was super excited to see what we could come up with using some of their products. Lakeshore just launched their Gifts for Growing Minds collection. Featuring over 200 items for children from birth through age 11, the collection offers everything from playful building sets and fun-filled craft centers to exciting learning games. To view the entire collection, visit: www.lakeshorelearning.com/GiftsForGrowingMindsAvailable now and throughout the holiday season, this exclusive collection of educational toys and games is designed to help parents get their children excited about learning!

We love SO much of what they have to offer from this collection and this week we’ll be sharing several of our favorite learning toys with you on their Instagram feed. But today we’re crazy excited to share our play Hospital that my daughter and nieces and I set up using Lakeshore’s Deluxe Doctor’s Office and Pet Vet Center.


The Deluxe Doctor’s Office comes with seriously the cutest stuff. Like this little Waiting Room sign that we put over Chester the Raccoon and his vintage baby doll friend. (Poor Chester needs to be seen for little bump on the head he acquired after hitting a tree branch he neglected to see while foraging for food to bring to a friends harvest lunch). The kit also comes with the coolest x-ray of a skull, an eye chart, tons of bottles with labels and of course doctor gear such as a stethoscope that actually works! The girls were giddy about really being able to hear eachothers heartbearts. They also loved using real gauze, bandages etc.


(The stethoscope and syringe above and below come in the Pet Vet Center.)


PlayHospital_MerMag9PlayHospital_MerMag6 For the girls costumes I was inspired by vintage nurse uniforms (I’m sure somewhat inspired by all my late night Call the Midwife marathons). These would be perfect for Halloween or just for you imaginative play costume box. For our senior nurse, Juliette, we made a simple cape from a blue sheet I found second hand and draped it over a white dress. PlayHospital_MerMag10 We painted the Pet Vet box white and added a red cross onto it for her doctor’s bag which could also couple as a halloween treat bag. You could make your own out of cardboard as well by clicking on the template below. (perfect accessory for our Playful Cardboard Halloween Costume Contest!) (more…)

Custom Doll Orders – Limited Time Only

mer mag doll

I’ve been working on a few custom craft-along rag doll orders and it’s been such fun! I wanted to share that for a very limited time only I’ll be taking a few more custom orders so if you’re interested please email me. These sweet oversize dolls are perfect for little ones to cuddle and older kids love making crafts and accessories for them.

mer mag doll face

The larger size make them perfect for the beginner seamstress to make clothes for, etc. (you can see size comparison in these photos with these two little 3 yr olds).

Baby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and Ears

Baby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and Ears

Last year I created a series of simple and easy to put together costumes for Kids 21. We had lots of fun with them and with our Playful Cardboard Costume Contest going on I thought it’d be fun to spotlight our little Baby Bat Costume we made with cardboard wings and ears.

Baby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and Ears

Depending on the year and the events we are attending I vary in how complicated I want to get with Halloween costumes (our Octopus Costume being more involved but TOTALLY worth it – she can even wear it again this year for some outings). But sometimes I just want to be able to throw something easy and quick together but has a big cute factor involved. I feel like this little batty ensemble is just that. Just cut out a pair of wings and ears from cardboard and paint them black. Glue the ears onto a headband, tie a ribbon around the wings and pair with a cute black outfit and you’re little creature of the night is ready for a harvest outing with the family. This makes for a fun addition to the dress up box as well.

Baby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and Ears Baby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and EarsBaby Bat Costume with Cardboard Wings and Ears

And an update on our Playful Cardboard Costume Contest! I’ve decided to include all repurposed, up-cycled costume ideas in the contest so it doesn’t have to just be cardboard! Basically reuse something that has had a previous life and make a fun costume from it. I’m giving away 2 of my books Playful as well as additional gifts adding up to $500!! Just tag your creative costume with #playfulcardboardcostumes on Instagram to enter! (and if you tagged under our previous hashtag #creativecardboardcostume you’ll still be entered as well).


photography by Trisha Zemp

A Birthday Morning for a Three Year Old


Miss M turned 3 last week. We have a tradition of putting up tape on our kids doorways so that they can jump through it into a new year of life (a tradition we got from my friend Ruth Schultz) so that’s how we started off her birthday. We also give our kids one gift on the day of their birthday and then the rest at their friend/family party which is usually later on in the week. On this particular birthday morning morning I thought it would be fun to set her gift outside her door after she jumped through it. BirthdayGirl_MerMag0

This year I added her birthday attire complete with birthday crown along side her gift. I made her a simple leaf crown by sewing leaves to a beautiful piece of french trimming (similar to the fall leaf crown I made last year).


After changing into her birthday dress (which was her “favorite pink one” like she asked) she opened up her pink package.


It was darling to see her squeals of delight as she opened up her new favorite pink pig – Olivia.

BirthdayGirl_MerMag1 (more…)

Playful Cardboard Costume Contest!


You guys this is my favorite time of year! I love the end of Sept. which ushers in the beginning of fall while still being a warm with hints of colder weather on the horizon. I love prepping for Halloween but mostly I LOVE dressing up & creating costumes. Of all the costumes I’ve created I have to say some of my VERY favorites include simple materials yet can be worn over again. And it’s probably come as no surprise but I’m crazy for cardboard when it comes to costumes! It’s either free or relatively inexpensive, durable and easy to work with (and as an online shopper, working on renovating my home, i’ve got boxes in abundance around here!).

I know a lot of you are lovers of cardboard as well and make amazing creations for your kids for Halloween and just everyday dress up. So I thought it would be fun to start a Playful Cardboard Costume Contest! Basically make a costume for your kids or yourself using cardboard, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #playfulcardboardcostumes and you’ll be entered to win prizes worth $500 including 2 signed copies of my book PLAYFUL! You have until Halloween Day, Oct. 31 to enter a cardboard costume. I will announce the winner on Nov. 1.


You might remember my juice box costume and cardboard fairy wings from last year. Well I did a gorgeous shoot with Trisha Zemp last year which never got published and I’m excited to share some of those amazing photos here. My niece ended up wearing the juice box costume for Halloween last year and let me tell you it was a hit! (I still want to do a group of kids with different flavored of juice boxes as an ensemble costume. Maybe the next time I go to the Halloween taping of The Ellen Show ).

CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes13CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes2    CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes14 CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes3CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes7CreativeCardboardHalloweenCostumes11 (more…)

Birthday Wish List for Miss M


Little Miss M’s birthday is coming up, and fast! She’ll be three!! My baby. Wasn’t it just yesterday when this day happened? Last year we had a little house theme birthday party for her with just a few family members. But this year I think we’ll have an official party for her with guests and the like – aaaand….she’ll LOVE that! Which sort of makes me giddy excited about it as well.

I’ve got my eye on a few birthday wish list items that I think she’ll just go nuts for:

01  the dear ones bears. So sweet and simple and perfect little playmates

02  Wooden Popsicle. Because a wooden popsicle, i mean really. I want all of them.

03  KAPLA blocks in black and white. She loves blocks and I love the many play options with Kapla blocks. These striped ones are perfect.

04  Twig Pixie Camera in Into the Wild. We love Twig’s cameras and think we need their latest model with push button and viewfinder.

05  Solly Dolly Wrap. I’m dying for her to have a Solly Dolly Wrap for her to carry around her Mer Mag dolls!

06  Tortoise and Hair linen Rabbit Cape. She’d love to dress up in this – like every day

07  Lessing – The Wall Game. Fun stacking game she’d love to play with her brothers.

08  Zuzi Oxford in dove stripe. Miss M is obsessed with shoes and she’d love these ones.

09  Sugar and Snow Wooden Makeup Case. And speaking of obsessed, well she’s over the moon about make up. Digs through my purse everyday, puts on whatever she can – anytime she can. So a pretty wooden set for her would be just the ticket.


Now to start planning the par-tay! Gathering ideas for the shindig here.


Making an Animal Habitat with Play-dough, Leaves and Twigs

1Creating an Animal Habitat 5 | MerMag

We have a collection of animal figurines (we have a tradition of acquiring one for each kid based wherever we go on vacation-read more about it here) and last week we decided to make a little habitat for some of them using play-dough, scavenged leaves, twigs, etc. This activity is great for toddlers and preschoolers but when my older boys came home, they loved digging in and playing around with it too.

Creating an Animal Habitat 1 | MerMag

It was easy making a little teepee by simply sticking a few twigs into the play-dough, tying off the top and wrapping some fabric around it all. There’s something really satisfying and sensory about little fingers squishing and sticking animals, twigs and more into the dough.

Our bears have a penchant for teepees 😉 but you could go authentic by molding bear caves from the play-dough which is lots of fun too.

Creating an Animal Habitat 7 | MerMag Creating an Animal Habitat 8 | MerMag Creating an Animal Habitat 3 | MerMag

We made apricot and cherry scented play-dough which was also very sensory and fun. (Miss M really notices scents – more than her brother did at this age.)

We decided to try a jello play-dough recipe and this is the one we liked best:


  • 1 cup of  flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs cream of tarter
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1 package of Jello (we used apricot and cherry jello flavors)

Making the Dough:

Mix together all ingredients on the stove over low. Stir constantly (I used a bamboo spatula that worked great) until dough forms a ball. Take it off the stove and let it cool for about 20 min.

Once cool, your dough should be ready to kneed and play with!

cherry + apricot playdoughCreating an Animal Habitat 4 | MerMag Creating an Animal Habitat 5 | MerMag Creating an Animal Habitat9 | MerMagCreating an Animal Habitat 6 | MerMag

We want to try a few playing around with a few natural play-dough recipes. I really like the idea of adding essential oils too as I think that would really therapeutic for some of my kids (and me!).