Posts tagged illustration
Fan Girl Friday: Mer Mag

"Aren't we weird human beings?" read my text message, "Us and our 'celebrity' crushes on people who are just regular humans like us." It was the second time, in a single day, that my friends and I were gushing over people who inspire us."

Paige, Approaching Joy Creative

I began to catch on to the idea of blogs as a new mom. I scoured the internet looking for ways to soothe my baby and stimulate early learning and fell down a wormhole into the mom blogs of the time. Many were overwhelming to me in terms of content and design.

And then:




Mer Mag is a site I found myself going back to again and again when I wanted to see how beautiful and creative motherhood could be. Merrillee is a styling guru, an amazing illustrator, and a fun mom. Her site is clean and gorgeous.

Her projects use everyday materials and elevate them to the world of awesome design. She creates a whole imaginary wonderland in cardboard, paper, and tape.

Her ideas are inspiring. No matter your age.

Her book looks incredible (you can preorder now).

Thank you, Merrillee, for reminding me of the joys of creating with and for your children. And for inspiring, through your use of material and shape, incredible projects we all can enjoy.

I'm a Fan Girl.

Who's inspiring you now?

Elise on Approaching Joy

xoxo, MJ


Classic Play and Jen:12 Blogger Christmas

Sing it with me now:

On the first day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Lulu the Baker.

On the second day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Trouvé Magazine.

On the third day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design Stitch Go.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design + Life + Kids.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Minnow + Co.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Bring Joy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design Improvised.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Frock Files.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Raincoast Creative Salon.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Alexandra Hedin.

And, can I get a drumroll, pleeeeassse....

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Classic Play!

First off, I can't believe that this series has come to an end, but nevertheless I am so excited to have Jen here to talk about her fabulous blog (so so much good stuff over their parents) and (hello...) new PBS series, Adventures in Learning.

Classic Play is the place where "having kids is cool" and in order for all that to happen you have to have one amazing mastermind behind it all. Jen has the wit and sincerity we parents need when transitioning children to the next stage of learning or getting into a project with your family. Cooking, playtime, crafts, reading - it's all infused with fun, and Jen's spirited illustrations are the cherry on top!

I guess it started when I had a toy/children's dress up line years ago and thought a blog would be a good promotional tool for it. Along the way, I fell in love with blogging—the conversations, the different skills it required, the friends I made. Eventually, we closed up our shop and I went all in for online publishing. 

What keeps me blogging?

The creative outlet, the opportunities that have arisen from the blog (even if the blog doesn't bring in revenue), the amazing contributors I work with, the pride I feel when I scroll through my site. I know it probably sounds vain, but it just makes me happy to look at and read it. 

Classic Play is a family lifestyle blog for creative types of parents or those who are looking for some creative ideas. I like to say it's always stylish, never fussy. As far as other places to find me? I host a pretty kickin' online series for PBS Parents called Adventures in Learning. It's one of the best parenting shows around. And I'm tooootally not biased at all ;) 

Hmm… this is a tough one!

I think this one, even though it's not a shiny happy piece, because it was the first time I ever tackled criticism. I wanted to ignore it, but I decided to be brave and tackle it head on. I've never done that before.


This one was just plain ol' fun and helped me realize what type of parent I wanted to be—the kind who was cool with her kids being themselves


And this one because I think it was the first time I felt brave enough to share my illustrations with people:


I'm going to be honest, I get nervous when I make big wishes; my family is wildly superstitious. But, I'm going to put on my big girl pants and make a wish. *deep breath* I would love to redesign the site to make it more functional. There is SO much fantastic content on there that gets lost in the shuffle. Other than that? I think I'll be happy with continuing to loosen up and experiment more. Blogging has allowed me to grow in so many ways. Hopefully 2014 will bring more of that growth even if it's uncomfortable (eek! I should probably be more careful what I wish for, yeah?)

Jen's energy for life and for motherhood is such an inspiration to me! She embraces everyday learning with ease, and injects a little something extra into every post. Whether you're a parent or not, you'll find inspiration on the overflow over at Classic Play.

Thanks all you beautiful bloggers for letting me feature your writing, your photography, your illustrations, your collages, and your hours and hours of sweat and tears. Blogging is an entire creative process, and I learn so much from ladies like these...

So here's to a wonderful 2014! My bloggy resolution for this year is to read more blogs. And comment more. Blog commenting has become akin to handwriting a personal letter. So I'm bringing it back with a gusto for 2014.

Watch out.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. You just have to come back tomorrow because I have a beautiful story to share with you and one biggo announcement.

P.P.S. #30sketch Day 5, for my middle school self


Four simple, pleasing read-aloud storybooks


I'm excited to honor Children's Book Week, the national celebration of books and reading for youth. This worthwhile spotlight started nearly a century ago and remains the longest-running literacy initiative in this country.

For my part, I really want to share with you four of our favorite family read-alouds. Reading to my children is such a daily gift. Taking on the voices and speech patterns of animals and inventions, I have the great pleasure of opening up the world to them.

We have a favorite bookstore, discovered a number of years ago while on vacation. As a souvenir from the trip, each child selected a book. We all have such fond memories of that time together, away from the TV and laptops.  I have such warm memories of all five of us huddled up in the big bed, listening and treasuring story and art, as we read and reread these wondrous books.


1. A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

Bear keeps to himself, always has, always will - until he hears a tap, tap, tapping on his door. Enter Mouse. The story unfolds to reveal the ways that Mouse ingratiates himself to the stubborn Bear, with persistence and attention. With its enjoyable repetition of refrain, your children (and you) will find yourself joining in the first sparks of friendships, and the sweet illustrations will stay with you long after the book close.

Bear has a series of other stories, and we happily read those, too, but I think this is by far, the best of the bunch.


2. Manana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul

My super smart sis, who is also a rocking Kindergarten teacher, recommended this one to me. Manana Iguana is a modern take on the Little Red Hen. Poor Iguana is raring to throw a grand fiesta, and she looks to her three companions to help with preparations. My fave animal in this one is Culebra (the snake) with his quick wit, "I'll help you, Iguana. I'll help you Manana, Iguana, when I grow arms."

The integration of Spanish and English dialogue is seamless and natural to the story. The drawings endear. And I do one amazing, annoyed iguana imitation if I do say so.


3. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

What list of children's stories would be complete without a Seuss? This one is my favorite. The ridiculousness matched with the sing song patterning makes it such a great read-aloud.

I've been influenced by Seuss artwork for a very long time, and I see my kids trying to identify what real creature might have inspired the crazy critters that Dr. Seuss brings to life in these pages. Mr. Gump's little ditty is my fave, as I have a melody that goes along with it, too (a book turned into a musical, I'm all about that!).

4. Little Miss Spider by David Kirk

The interior of this book feels and looks like a shiny, polished new car. The dramatic colors are like a rainbow on your lap and each vignette draws you in. C has always loved this story, so much so that she memorized the entirety of it at age 3 and "read" it to her teachers.

Miss Spider hatches into the world, alongside many siblings, but without the presence of her mother. We follow her through the story as she searches and inquires, "Where could my mother be?", only to find that she has discovered the most amazing mother right by her side.

It's a sweet, simple story, again using rhyme, that reminds us of the most important connection between mother and child.

If you're looking for a sentimental something for a momma (perfect for Mother's Day) in your life, try wrapping up this charmed storybook. The book concludes with the verse below - one so fitting for Mother's Day. Cut and paste it into your next email or text to a favorite momma in your life.