Archive | June 2015

Love Wins!

A Few of My Favorite Free Web Apps

New Apps




I learned about Medium at the Hopscotch Design Fest last year from Elle Luna, who gave the keynote at the conference. It’s a great online magazine with a clean design and interesting topics contributed by writers both known and obscure.



Described as “Instagram for audio” this brand new site has a lot of potential to catch on. I’ve listened to a few entries and it seems even more intimate than podcasting – like listening to meaningful voice mail messages from strangers. Each one is less than 4 minutes long and the topics are as diverse as the contributors.




I’ve used Trello for over a year now and I love it! From web development projects to marketing campaigns it is an excellent way to organize information, share the status of tasks, and collaborate with teams. There are paid versions available but the free one has worked well for me so far.

Morpholio Board


Morpholio Board

I’ve recently discovered this app for my iPad and iPhone. While Morpholio has many different productivity apps, the one I use is Morpholio Board that facilitates making inspiration and mood boards. I used it to make the boards for my last Favorite Things post below (and here). It allows you to clip images from the web and apps like Pinterest. It’s free with optional in-app purchases.



InVision is an amazing app that lets you prototype a website so easily and seamlessly I recently had a client who didn’t believe what I sent her was a mock-up. Sign up for free here.

A Few of Our Favorite Things…

Mari’s Favorite Baby Buys

Mari Loves

When you have a baby, lots of people give you advice not just on child rearing but on what you “need” to buy. I’m from the camp that you “need” very little so it was quite a shock when family and friends gifted and handed us down enough clothing, toys, accessories, and gadgets to raise five kids!

Not only were we so fortunate that we didn’t need to buy a lot and we could give new life to old things but we could be especially choosy about the few items we did end up purchasing. In no particular order, here’s a list of some of the baby stuff I’m glad we bought.

1. Chewbeads

Created by a mom, these silicone beads are stylish and functional, serving as a safe piece of jewelry that a baby can chomp while teething. I’ve been wearing my red Chewbeads necklace since Brooklyn cut her first tooth. They are easy to clean with soap and water or put them in the dishwasher! See their website here.

2. Charlie Banana One-Size Cloth Diapers

If you’re interested in cloth diapering we have found Charlie Banana’s One-Size diapers to be the best for us. We didn’t want to invest too much in a particular size (new born, small etc.) so the one-size variety pack (we chose the gender-neutral tutti fruitti colors) has served us well. When we decided to buy more diapers we tried another, less expensive one-size brand and although the designs and patterns are cute, they just don’t do the job as well. We reach for the Charlie Banana’s first and that says something. Find them here.

3. Oxo Tot Roll Up Bib

This is our favorite bib – not only does it actually catch everything that Brook spits out or drops but it washes easily, rolls up for easy travel, and has stood up to over a year of use and still looks brand new. Find it here.

4. Handkerchief Style Bibs

A mom from a mommy’s group I used to belong to recommended these handkerchief bibs. They are adorable and even better at catching drool than a regular bib because they bunch up, are triangularly shaped, and are lined with absorbent fleece material. We loved them so much we bought two different sets from two different sellers on Amazon mostly to vary the adorable cloth designs. I would recommend either one. Find them here and here.

5. Ikea Antilop High Chair

One of the best pieces of advice my sister gave me about buying baby stuff was to get this high chair because it’s easiest to clean (and cheaper than most others – it’s $15). We have also found it to be pretty portable since you can detach the legs and take off the tray. Easy to clean, cute, and inexpensive? What’s not to love? Find the Antilop High Chair here.

6. Sassy Suction Toy

Brook is a curious gal and while she is very well behaved in restaurants and at the table, she often grabs at silverware, plates, glasses…basically anything she can get her hands on. To keep her at least a little occupied, I got this toy that suctions to any hard surface from her high chair to a restaurant table. It spins but thankfully doesn’t make any annoying noises – no batteries necessary. Oh yeah – it costs under $6 on Amazon as an add-on item! Find it here.

7. Munchkin White Hot Spoons

When I first bought these spoons I didn’t appreciate just how useful they would turn out to be. Not only does the color of the spoon change with a temperature change – turning to white when the food is too hot – but they are also designed and weighted so that when they fall the spoon part rarely hits the floor. Genius! Also available on Amazon for $5! Find them here.

8. Melissa and Doug Deluxe Band Set

This was Brooklyn’s holiday gift from her Mimi and Popi and she loves it! This set comes with enough wooden instruments to hold your own music class. I also appreciate that the instruments are actual instruments not just toy models of instruments and aren’t made out of plastic. Granted, the recorder doesn’t work so well but everything else in this set feels substantial and it comes in a nice wooden tray. Find it here.

And now, Brooklyn weighs in…

Brooklyn Loves

1. Any Electronic

2. Reading Books

3. Discovery Kids Bubble Gun

4. Eating Oranges or Clementines

5. Eating Bread

6. Hide N Squeak Eggs

7. Reading (Ripping) Magazines

8. Eating Plain Greek Yogurt

9. Melissa and Doug Alligator Push Toy

Free Find: Painted Wooden Blocks

Paul and I found these delightfully painted wooden blocks during another trip to the recycling center. I’ve never seen these childhood staples with quite the same designs, which harken back to the 60s or 70s. My favorite block is the Town Hall and I also love the little trees. In the photos you’ll see a mix of the blocks that we found (skyscrapers, trains, trees, houses, tow truck) mixed with our Spanish wooden blocks and a few other goodies from our toy chest. Brook had fun knocking everything down once I had taken the photos!

Enjoy, Mari

Global Moms Relay

Brilliant! Join in by sharing this video and other stories on the United Nations Foundation’s Global Moms Challenge website here.

Enjoy, Mari

Free Find: World of Wall Street

On a recent trip to our local recycling center Paul found the vintage game, World of Wall Street. Our recycling center has an area with free items for the taking that people drop off. It’s a great resource but I wish it was mission-based like the Free Store in Braddock, PA (check it out here).

Paul spoke with the woman dropping off her old board games. She said that she was cleaning out her attic and had a bunch of games that she had barely played before. This one had never been played – the cards and money were new in the package. Aside from a slight mildew smell and a bit of spotting on the board, the game is in perfect condition.

World of Wall Street was made in 1969 by NBC (yes, like the TV Network) and is a primer for understanding buying and selling stocks. We’ve played a few times and much of the game is luck-based but it does reinforce the concept of buying low and selling high.

My favorite part of the game, though, is the incredible graphic design. These days, designers work hard to achieve this mid-century aesthetic. This game is an actual example of what mainstream designers were doing in 1969 – complete with a slide rule!

See for yourself how simple and beautiful the game pieces are.

Enjoy, Mari

Brooklyn’s First Birthday Party!

I took myself on as a client and worked on Brooklyn’s party from the invitations (the New York Times image) and signage, to the baked goods, labels, buttons, and table design. Not shown are the flags made from subway maps, the theatre area where we showed her video montage, the play area, and the activity tables.

Some highlights:

  • Individual mini-cheesecakes with tiny spoons (I love tiny spoons!)
  • The smash cake with the skyline around it
  • Subway-inspired signs
  • 5th Avenue Bar favors
  • NYC-themed coloring pages
  • Brooklyn Lager for the grown-ups
  • Classic NYC coffee cups
  • Black & White Cookies (which I didn’t bake)
  • Subway-themed and pixelated temporary tattoos
  • A crown made from a subway map

Enjoy, Mari

Montage of Montages

Part of the reason I’ve been too busy to post is because I’ve been making a lot of video montages like the one above. I make these tribute videos for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, nonprofits, and lately a lot of Bar Mitzvahs.

In addition, I work on branding events including logo design, place cards, t-shirts, stickers, giveaways, and personalized gifts. Recently, I designed place cards meant to look like NFL tickets, a vintage logo for a 40th birthday, a surprise tribute video, and everything you can imagine for Brooklyn’s first birthday (lots of images coming soon).

In the video you’ll see a taste of the kinds of animations and transitions I use in my videos with some clips from families (including my own!) who let me share their images.

Enjoy, Mari

Finding Balance…


How appropriate to get back into the swing of things on the blog than with a video webinar I participated in on the topic of Work/Life Balance. In particular, this conversation centered around the particular challenges for social entrepreneurs but I think our discussion applies to anyone who is looking to find equilibrium with their career and personal life.

The International Youth Foundation and YouthActionNet hosts these webinars – check out their YouTube channel here:

More on this soon…but it’s been an absolute crazy time for me both working freelance and taking care of our now 14-month old (!) daughter. Often, it feels like having more than 2 full-time jobs. Hence, the break from posting on this blog.

But, now I’m back. Some of my freelance projects are coming to their conclusions and I’ve decided to scale back on saying yes to more clients. It’s a nice position to be in – being able to choose your work – and right now with everything going on it’s the best way for me to stay balanced.

Enjoy, Mari

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