Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I give a HOOT

A few weeks back, Miss Ashlee hosted a Spotted Owl Brew Fest. The brew fest was planned as the final hoorah of her Spotted Owl Project. Before I delve into the sweet details of the fest', here's a little more from Ashlee on the project.

Tatzoo ladies: Alisha (Bay Checkerspot Butterfly), Ashlee (Spotted Owl) and Molly (Stellar Sea Lion)
The Spotted Owl Project (a Tatzoo project) is my first attempt at breaking out of my shell and engaging people in something I truly care about – beer…and the Northern Spotted Owl of course! In fact, it’s an endeavor that combines both of these two interests. I am brewing a beer called Spotted Owl Brew, which I intend to use it as a vehicle for engaging random strangers in a meaningful conversation about the Northern Spotted Owl. Why? Well, I don’t know about you, but I love to get into passionate conversations with a beer in hand. So, why not bring something truly relevant – like endangered species and how our lives impact their chances for survival- into the mix?

It’s not just about the Northern Spotted Owl though. I want to help people start making connections. What do I mean? Well, I want people to start thinking about species THEY care about… and why! The thing is, unless we start changing our behavior (and fast) there are a LOT of species out there at risk, not just the Northern Spotted Owl.

It is my hope that by engaging people in conversation about species we care about and wouldn’t want to lose, we’ll all start to feel a little more motivated to start making some changes – big or small – that will begin to add up and make a real difference.

adorable tags hand stamped by ashlee
The Spotted Owl Brew Fest took place on a Saturday evening at the gorgeous home of Ashlee's aunt. The evening included food, Spotted Owl brew, a presentation from Ashlee,  music by her cousin's band 91 Night Owl (owl love runs in the family) and lots of good conversations. Donations were collected (encouraged, not required) with all of the proceeds going right back to the Spotted Owls!

spotted owl bunting banner made by yours truly
In addition to unlimited Spotted Owl brew, each guest also received an adorable mug! I hope, as I'm sure Ashlee does too, these mugs continue to spark conversations about the Spotted Owl.

Speaking of the brew, here is the brewmaster himself, Brian (aka bgrace) joined by a loyal brew drinker, Blackore. 

Throughout the evening, Ashlee gave everyone the opportunity to share why they give a HOOT. Here are a few of the responses (click to enlarge). It was a fun idea and made for some great pictures. My favorite response, from Ashlee's aunt (top right), I give a HOOT...because they know Ashlee. I couldn't agree more!

{click to enlarge}
I give a HOOT because this was a project near and dear to Ashlee's heart. That was reason enough for me. Beyond that, I give a HOOT because I want future generations to have the change to know about and hopefully see these amazing creators in the wild. 

Why do YOU give a HOOT? Is there a species you're particularly passionate about? 

Congrats to Ashlee on the successful completion of the Spotted Owl Project. So happy we were able to attend the brew! Now she gets a Spotted Owl tattoo (hence the name, Tatzoo)! 

Learn more about the Spotted Owl Project here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrating Easter vicariously

This year Easter completely snuck up on me! There were no crafts or cards (gasp!) and we had B's friend in town for the weekend, so we ended up not celebrating the holiday. The most festive our weekend got was a bag of Starburst Jelly Beans (hands down, best jelly beans ever) and running into these spray painted bunnies on the beach in Bolinas. 

I was happy to know that most friends and family we're celebrating Easter in full force. I wanted to share their creativity and holiday cheer in an effort to celebrate the holiday vicariously! 

Just because you don't have a cotton tail, doesn't mean you can't be a bunny on Easter! Pippin and Ulla are no strangers to dressing up for holidays. Their moms (the twins: layna and janelle)  love to put their pets in costumes and take pictures. I wonder if their mom did the same to them as youngsters? 

Check out this  lil' flock of sheep cake pops made by Kaci! They almost seem too cute to eat, although their sugary goodness would be hard to resist. Read the full how-to here.

Rachel hosted another fabulous holiday craft party: Candy, Wine and Easter Egg Dyin. 
{see Rachel's other holiday craft parties here: monster mash, gingerbread village, valentines}
Sadly I had to miss the party, but I wanted to share this bunny egg made by Surime. She applied scotch tape, in the shape of a rabbit, dipped half the egg in blue, and the other half in green. Peeled away the tape and drew on the details with a marker. Isn't that awesome?

And finally, my motivation to share all this Easter creativity, Jessica's DIY Easter name cards and napkin rings! 

Jessica sent me photos of these cute, and easy, Easter projects yesterday. We sent messages back and forth, while I was dreaming about the delicious food they were eating, she offered to share how she made these cute and easy Easter decorations. Her photos and directions are good practice for when she starts a blog ;)

Cute Critter Name Cards 

For the name cards, I used plain white card stock (approx 4x6 inch sheets on sale a Hobby Lobby).  I used the Create a Critter cartridge for the Cricut to make the bunnies and chicks.  Each are 3 layers (plus the "shadow") so you just follow the instructions/pictures to make each layer.

For the bunny I chose winter white, a light pink i had on hand for the background which showed up in the ears, nose and cheeks, then a little cream/darker white for the tummy part.  Then I used black card stock for the shadow which turns out to be the whiskers and the little bit around the edges.

For the chick, I got a textured classic yellow for the body and an orange for the beak.  There is a tummy part for that one too, but I forgot when i was buying paper, so i didn't put one on   Again, black cardstock for the shadow which makes the legs and the edges.

I used a glue stick to glue each layer on top of the next and let dry.  Then I just used a glue pen to put a little white and yellow glitter on their tummies and voila! a cute critter! I folded the white cardstock in half and glued them to the top corner, bunnies on one side, chicks on the other, just to switch it up.

For the lettering, i used the Wall Art and More cartridge. The first letter of each name I did a "monogram letter" and then just chose the font I liked best for the rest of the letters. I had several different brightly colored card stocks on hand from other projects, so that worked out perfectly to make them springy and Eastery! 

Glitter Egg Napkin Rings

I purchased styrofoam eggs and put them on bamboo skewers. I poked the skewers through a shoebox to hold them up.  Then I took each one off and held it by the skewer while I sprayed with the spray adhesive.  Then I sprinkled the glitter on and then put it back into the hole in the shoe box to dry.  I let them dry overnight in hopes that the glitter would stay on better. 

For the napkin rings, I wrapped floral wire around a condiment bottle that was the same size as the napkins about 6 times I wrapped the ends around the rings to hold them all together.  Then I put a dab of hot glue on the back of the egg and put the wire on it with the ends side in the glue so no one would get poked.  When that was holding a little bit, I put another drop of hot glue on top of the wire in the same place so that it would hold it on better.

Luckily for drying time (not so nice for me...) it was really cold outside so it dried pretty quickly, but you'll have to hold each ring in place until the glue hardens or it jut falls over, which sucks.  

Once the rings are dry, place them on napkins and voila - adorable glitter egg napkin rings! And here's the final product, minus the amazing food, of course. 

I hope you had a wonderful Easter! Thank you all for letting me spend my holiday by living vicariously through you. Extra special thanks to Jess for sharing her how-to. 
I have lots of inspiration for a egg-cellect celebration next year!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A brighter shade of green

Happy Earth Day! Have you hugged a tree today?

 Avenue of the Giants - February 2010

Last year on Earth Day, I wrote about the ways I celebrate Earth Day everyday. I'm happy to report I am still celebrating on a daily basis by continuing all those things! I've even cut back a little more by walking to work most days. It's a good workout and way to cut my carbon footprint.

This year I'm challenging myself to think about the carbon footprint of our wedding  and when possible choose Eco-Chic. In other words, have a beautiful wedding while making minimal environmental impact. My hope is to incorporate these 101 ways to make your wedding eco-chic, from Style Unveiled. I will also make good use of the Green Bride Guide! And I have some experience with green weddings...remember when I helped plan one?

While I know our wedding might not be completely green, it's something I want to keep in mind. With so many great resources, it seems silly not to strive for a brighter shade of green...and I'm not just talking wedding colors.

Thanks for reading. Now go hug a tree (yes, that means you too Jess!).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Adventures in Joshua Tree

We're back from a long weekend in Joshua Tree National Park. We had a fabulous weekend and have close to 500 pictures to prove it. I've gone through them and picked my favorite to share with you! 

First things first, I'm so relieved to share that backpacking wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. This is due in part to the fact we took a lot of smaller hikes with only a day pack. Although heavy to carry, backpacking really forces you to bring less stuff. It's amazing how little you really need to have a comfortable and enjoyable experience camping. 

Here is a photo of us with our big packs. Clearly the smiles indicate we're having a good time but also that we haven't actually started walking yet (you can see the reflection of the car in B's glasses)

Happy Campers
True to the name, the highlight of the park is the Joshua Trees! Although they all have the same basic characteristics, they are shaped a little different. Their uniqueness was hard not to talk about and photograph. Don't you think Dr Seuss must have gotten inspiration from them? 

Although the contrast of the trees to the sand and rocks was pretty, my favorites are the sunset and dusk photos with the silhouette of the trees. The first photo of this post is my favorite from the entire trip, and I'm proud to say I took it! Second favorite photo is the one just above (happy campers). Here are a few others of the trees:

Not only did we luck out with great weather - lots of sunshine and high 70's - we also were there just in time to witness all the spring flowers! At one point, as seen in the first photo, we were walking through an area covered in little white and yellow flowers. As you can imagine, I was loving it!

One of our camping traditions is to play cards. When the sun goes down, and in this case you can't have a campfire, it's the perfect easy to pack & fun to play activity. We forgot our own cards, so we bought a souvenir pack at the gift shop. Game of choice was Gin-Rummy. B won by a landslide on Friday and I came back to beat him on Saturday. The Lackore family are skilled card players, so I always feel extra proud when I win...even if my victory was not by a landslide. 

Much to my delight, the moon was bright and beautiful both nights. While it meant we didn't see quite as many stars, I was happy to be in the company of such a full moon! Pictured below is not only the moon, but the two places we camped. 

The first night we stayed just off the Geology Trail. Our hike from the car was 2-3 miles, which was far enough to be in the middle of no where. While there we only saw one other group way off in the distance. We did see a jack rabbit, lizards, crows and a swarm of bees. Once the sun went down, I'll admit, I was scared and wanted to play cards in the tent. 

The second night we camped a little closer, off the Boy Scout Trail, to civilization and some big rocks, which helped with the wind (which kept us up the first night). I definitely liked our second spot best! I enjoy being outside and camping, but being alone in the middle of the desert, although beautiful, was a little creepy. 

On one of our day hikes, at Skull Rock, we wandered into an area where people had made rock art. Lots of names spelled out in rocks and in this case - a heart!

All in all, great experience backpacking and enjoyable trip to Joshua Tree! If you haven't already been, I recommend adding it to your places to visit. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gone backpackin'


We are headed to the desert this weekend to do a little backpacking in Joshua Tree National Park. This is our first time to JT, my first time backpacking and B's last National Park to see in the great state of California (that last part sounds best when said like Arnold).

I am stoked to see the Yucca brevifolias, sleep under the stars and see an almost full moon! I am nervous about the actual carrying all possessions on your back part. Doing my best to be hardcore for the weekend; please wish me luck.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Too much of a good thing

Last night as I was getting ready to wash my hair, I realized I had not one but TWO bottles of conditioner. Best part? This is the second time washing my hair since I bought new bottles. Meaning I double conditioned last time. Awesome!

In case you're wondering...this stuff really works for frizz and half of the time I get None of Your Business stuck in my head. Double win. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby Six Pack

In addition to making baby cards, I've also been putting together baby shower gifts. Last weekend I put together this baby six pack for a friend's shower.   

Prior to heading to Babies R Us (where I am beginning to think I should take them up on the rewards card) I viewed the gift registry to look for themes. When I saw the bottles and brushes still available, my creative wheels started turning. Remembering this birthday six pack, I thought it could be cute to make a baby six pack filled with bottles, bottle brushes and other things to occupy baby when not sleeping or with said bottles.  

baby six pack ingredients: bottles, brushes, pacifier and clip
reused 6 pack container
Using an empty six pack container and paper I had on hand, I transformed the six pack container to be baby (boy!) friendly. Looking back, I should have cut out the handle area prior to gluing it all together, but thankfully those crocked lines were hidden by the contents!

I wrapped each item individually to look like a bottle, tying the top of each with ribbon. The brushes were packaged together, so they look nothing like a bottle, but thankfully are somewhat hidden in the back of the pack. Here is a side view...

The baby six pack was completed with an oh BOY! card tied to the handles. When opening gifts at the shower, my friend immediately knew this was from me. Am I that obvious? :) 

With so many cute baby clothes and gear, a gift can easily go from simple and thoughtful to expensive. While I ended up spending a little more than I had planned, this same idea could be created at any price point. 

Baby Love

Have I mentioned lately how many people around me are having babies? 9 - that I can think of off the top of my head and that doesn't count 2 babies born recently. We are officially to the time in our life where friends are having babies! 

While it's exciting, I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a little crazy because I'm not there yet. I'm happy to know that while I get there (you know tie-the-knot, maybe buy a house), I can love on all these babies! Not to mention expand my party planning skills to incorporate baby showers. 

So while they have (ahem) been busy making babies, I've kept myself busy making cards to celebrate...

I found these hilarious Parenting Flashcards at a local shop. They remind me of someecards. I bought a set as a potential gift, but decided to spread the love (and hilariousness) by making them into cards. 

Congrats to all you baby mamas and papas!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let the wedding plans begin!

According to the knot.com we have 435 until our ideal wedding date*! Not right around the corner, but definitely time to get the planning party started. 

I am pretty proud of myself for waiting to start planning, like I promised after the proposal. While I have worked on little aspects and day dreamed A LOT, very few plans have actually been made. 
In the last week or so I've started to get serious. The planner in me was getting nervous about not planning. 

I will share details of the planning process here, partially to keep those interested informed and to pay it forward. I've been inspired by so many blogs, I can only hope to help/inspire others. 

Here's what I've done so far:
- Signed up for the knot.com It's a great FREE resource. I'll admit, when you log-on its sensory overload (so many pictures and ideas on the main page) but they have some great tools and of course a friendly count down to the big day!
* When you first sign up for the knot, it asks your wedding date. As I mentioned above, we have an ideal wedding date. I will share more on that later, but in an effort not to jinx us I'll just say we are shooting for June 2012.

- Created a budget This is the thing that was on my mind immediately after the engagement, as in it scared me. I'm SO HAPPY to say that so far, so good. I am thankful my parents are contributing to the actual budget which will help us make this thing happen. I am also thankful for the knot's budget tool and Chelsea's wedding budget to all steer me in the right direction.

- Started a timeline using Real Simple's Ultimate Wedding Plan Checklist. I plan to add a lot more to the timeline as we get closer, but this is a great start! 

- Searching for venues We are planning to get married in the Denver area. Through catering I've been to quite a few of the venues. Its helpful in narrowing down the list, but I want B to see them and also for me to look at them again from a bride lens. This is our biggest priority. I'm hoping we can make a choice when we're home for Memorial Day (fingers crossed).

Contacted Photographers This has been the most fun part so far. I will share more exciting details soon!

- LOTS of drooling and dreaming over wedding blogs. To me, blogs are like the new age wedding magazine. I love the photos of real weddings, DIY projects and loads of clever ideas. These are my favorite wedding blogs: 100 Layer CakeGreen Wedding ShoesLovely Little DetailsMarry You MeSnippet & InkStyle Me Pretty

Although not strictly wedding blogs, I also like these blogs that shared lots of their own wedding inspiration, DIY projects and party inspiration: Elise Blaha: enJOY It, Oh Happy Day, We Met in a Bar

One question I've gotten a lot, but hadn't thought about too much, is whether I will take Brian's last name. Not a huge shock, as I am engaged and will be getting married. I guess with so many other details on my mind, and a wedding date pretty far away, this isn't top of mind.

To enlighten my dear readers: the answer is yes, I plan to take Brian's last name. I've always liked his last name, Lackore, and heck I really like him too so why not! I adore my initials (either way you flip MW it always reads MW) and feel proud of my last name, but I look forward to becoming Michelle Lackore (fyi, it was weird typing that!!). My future children will get to use Wengert for their mothers maiden name and with my new initials, ML, add an I and a F...and I'll be a MILF!

That's all for now! I promise to share more details as they come. Thanks for following along and please share any blogs, tools or tips you have for me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

his + hers: new computers

I've needed a new laptop for about a year now. Last year around this time my back-light broke and motherboard was in danger. I paid to repair the back-light and have been living life on the edge of motherboard danger ever since. After I did my taxes I mentally ear-marked my return for a new laptop.

B got a new computer his last semester of college (2004). He's computer savvy, so that desktop has be through upgrade after upgrade over the years - more ram, new monitor, ergo keyboard; however when he turns it on it sounds like an airplane getting ready for take off. For months he's talked and researched getting a new tower. That's right, just the tower, as an upgrade to what he already has (insert eye roll from me). He also ear-marked his return for a new tower.

I'd been leaning towards a Mac. I looked online dozens of times, went into the store and talked with people who own Macs. What I decided is that Macs are cool, user friendly and freaking expensive. I also could not stop thinking about this article Ashlee shared with me. B suggested I do more research on computers other than Mac. I did a little research and found comparable PCs.

On Saturday we headed out to run some errands. B suggested we look at computers while we were out and about. Computer shopping was not on my to-do, but I agreed. While at Best Buy I talked to an extremely helpful salesman who sold me on an HP. Not only did it have all the features I needed, the price was more reasonable.

We headed to another store to do a little price comparison. Another extremely helpful salesman (commission anyone?) talked to us for at least 45 minutes. He and B were using words that made my eyes glaze over. He mentioned the laptop I was interested in was on sale at their competitors store, so they'd match the price. What's the price you ask? $550 - that's right steal-of-a-deal. I was sold!

Meanwhile B had been eyeing the towers, asking lots of questions, while I mentioned how nice and clear the fancy new monitors (that can come with a tower) looked! When I mentioned I was sold, he decided to also bite the bullet and purchase - brace yourselves - not just the tower, but a bundle (monitor, tower, keyboard, mouse) that was also price matched steal-of-a-deal and a splurge for B. I'm so proud of him for getting the bundle!

Two hours later we left the store with two brand new computers for roughly the price of one Mac ($1239 to be exact). Not at all what i was expecting to do with two hours on my Saturday, but I am happy to have a new computer and for such a deal! 

So with that loooooong winded explanation, I give you his + hers: new computers 

HP Pavilion Desktop 
Best features (in my opinion): 23' flat screen monitor 
faster and more memory than the old clunker 

HP Pavilion dm4
Best features: Webcam (so excited to video chat! yes, I know I sound like a teenager)
DVR capabilities (when connected to your cable, how cool is that?)
Small (14.5 inch) and light weight (4.5 lbs)

Yep, that's probably way more than you ever wanted to know about our new computers and our buying experience! Moral of the story - it truly pays to do research and ask if stores will do a price match. Maybe in 5 years I'll be ready to bite the bullet and go Mac. Until then I'll be rocking the HP! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Fever

After a weekend filled with sunshine and more gorgeous weather today - currently 73 degrees - I have a serious case of spring fever! I've gone outside several times and each time it's a little harder to come back to my desk. 

While I have to be inside, I can stdream about being outside in these cute dresses. Hmmm, I do need something to wear to weddings this summer (first one, Debbie & Jeremy, is a little over three weeks!).

Here are a few that caught my eye...



I'm thinking more along the lines of the last two because I love the color and patterns. I'm sure that's not surprising to anyone who reads this :) 

Happy Spring! 

PS. Have you ever ordered from ModCloth? I'm intrigued but wish I could try them on.