Nov 30, 2010

I spy cards

So this is probably going to be the shortest post you have ever seen me write but I wanted to show you the I spy cards I mentioned in my reception decor post

I saw this in the DIY section of Wedding Bee and I was in love! HisPookie was even nice enough to send me her photoshop template to start from. (By the way, THANK YOU!)

The only thing I really changed was the color of the fonts and then added the same paper texture background I used for our menus. And in case your a font geek like me and your first thought was I wonder what those fonts are:

And there you have it. The shortest Meerkat post ever!

Has anyone else done any fun games like this for your guests to participate in at the reception?

Nov 29, 2010

Customizing with Vinyl (DIY)

From the very start I wanted cute little colorful suitcases for me and my girls to have our pictures taken with. Just some fun little props for after the ceremony. So when I found little cardboard suitcases online, I knew all they needed was a couple little vinyl decals of our wedding monogram and they would be perfect. After I applied a little Meerkat know how here is what I got:

And as always I am going to spread the love and give you the step by step breakdown of how I did it. Not that your going to want to customize mini suitcases but there tons of other things you can do this with.

First thing was first. I needed to get our monogram cut out from vinyl with an adhesive back (like the kind pictured above). I could have ordered rolls of vinyl and used my cricut to cut them but I found it was just so much easier to have Bubba And Doodle on Etsy cut it for me. She was super quick and the vinyl perfectly cut.

Here is what they looked like when they arrived:

Look a bit odd? That is because a layer of WIDE masking tape is laid across the top of the vinyl. Probably seems like a weird thing to do but the mask will allow us to easily line up and transfer the image. I promise it will all make sense in a minute. :D

After I lined up the image where I wanted it, I used making tape to stick down one edge of the image to the suitcase. This will keep it from moving around while I was transferring it off the mask. (DO NOT remove any of the backing or mask from the cut vinyl at this step!)

Next I fliped the image over along the edge I taped down. The mask bends while keeping my vinyl in the exact position while I removed the backing. 

Feel free when your pulling the backing off to press down flat against the surface. The flatter you can keep it while pulling back, the easier the it will be to keep the vinyl on the mask.

Next I flip the image part way over. Basically I had it sticking straight up in the air because I didn't want it to touch the surface yet. Then I took a piece of cardboard (anything hard and flat will do) and while still holding the image straight up in the air used the card to slowly push the image down onto the surface.

See how I am still holding the image up in the air so only the part I pushed down with the cardboard was stuck to the suitcase. (Tip: Start from the edge you taped down and make smooth strokes from the middle to the outside working your way across the mask.)

Once you have it all applied it will look like this:

Now all you have to do is remove the mask.

I pulled it back slowly as sometimes very small things on the cutout will stick to the mask instead of the suitcase. When that happens I just use my finger nail to give it a little nudge off the mask before I pull it back any further.

Here is the final result:

Not to shabby for a few dollars in vinyl and some masking tape huh?  You can apply this type of vinyl to mugs, walls, picture frames or whatever you can think of.

Anyone interested in giving this a shot?

Nov 28, 2010

Some thoughts on PWD

A little while ago I read this article from The Guardian talking about post wedding depression. It really got me thinking. Was something like this going to affect me?

For some of us a wedding is like a amusement park with one AMAZING roller coaster and nothing else. No really it is! You wait in line, the whole time anticipating whats to come. Then you finally get on the ride and this huge excitement builds as you climb that first hill. Finally you get to go down the hill it is so amazing its hard to describe in words. You finish out the rest of the short ride loving every minute of it. But then the ride is over and what do you do next? 

I know thats kind of a grim analogy but really for a lot of people this is exactly how it feels. And to be honest I can totally relate. When your life is consumed by something, other things get pushed aside until there is nothing left but that one all consuming thing. 

And I have to admit at first I almost let myself do this. I can't tell you the number of Friday nights I wanted to bail on Mr. Meerkat and our friends for our usual dinner and a movie get together. I even considered not coaching my robotics team this fall because it would be so much to do close to the wedding. Thankfully I never gave up either. I tried to keep my life balanced with some things wedding but also with things that I love outside of weddings. 

Up until last weekend I thought I had failed at accomplishing that balance. What happened last weekend? The kids robotics team I coach attended their regional competition. They didn't advance to the next tournament so our season is officially over. And you know what? I am bummed! What should have been relief that I could now focus on the wedding actually came as a bit of sadness. Now all I want to do is start getting ready for next years competition. I have 10 million ideas floating around in my head for robotics and none for the wedding. 

Don't get my wrong I am so excited to get married but all those little details that seemed UBER important when we got engaged seem small now in the overall scope of things. These last few little projects I don't have done just aren't important enough to be at the top of my priority list anymore. Does this mean I have found that balance? I would love to know how you are trying to combat PWD?

Nov 23, 2010

DIY Painted Parasols

Let me start out by saying that Mrs. Sewing saved my butt on this one. After my custom parasol order on etsy went bust Sewing offered to send me a couple of the parasols she had left over from her wedding. Not to mention that her DIY tutorial got me on the right track for doing them myself. I decided to paint our wedding date on the parasols my bridesmaids are carrying down the aisle. Lets start with the final results:

Sorry I had to blur out our wedding date.

I am not going to rehash Sewings whole post because she already did a great job on directions but I will tell you a couple extra things that I tried and worked well for me. Instead of a normal pencil I used a mechanical one that I wore the edge down on by scribbling on a piece of paper. I didn't tear through the parasols paper once and it made a nice thin line.

Also something that made a really big difference was a nice angular paint brush like this:

The brushes were simple nylon bristled ones for $1 each. I used a couple different sizes so experiment and see what works best for your painting style. I was able to use the thin edge to do nice even strokes along the outline.

Has anyone else try painting a parasol? Any tips or tricks you would like to share?

Nov 22, 2010

Non-Traditional Gifts For Our Moms

Gifts for our moms were probably one of the things with we struggled with the most. We are so lucky to have such amazing and supportive parents that we wanted to give them something more than the traditional silver picture frame.

We brainstormed long and hard but I think we have come up with a couple really unique and beautiful gifts that will hopefully mean a lot to them. First thing we had made for each of them is a custom handkerchief. Bon Fete on Etsy screen printed these for us with our monogram and a custom saying:

My hope is that these are something they can use but that will also turn into a keepsake of the wedding.

The second thing we decided to do was replace the standard flower corsage with something they could take home with them.

This is actually a large necklace charm that you can customize with up to 9 birthstones. I plan to remove the charms from the chain and create some kind of pin (still working on that part) so they can wear it like a corsage on their dresses. Each of the charms I ordered have birthstone personalize to each family along with either I or Mr. Meerkat's birthstone added to it. On the plate that sits behind it I had engraved "Our Family".

The charms were a little more than twice the price of what we would have paid for corsages but I really think the investment was worth it. Of course I will place the chain in the box so they can wear it as a necklace too if they prefer.

The final thing we are doing for our mom are photo books of our wedding. Every mom loves a brag book so I am going to make two custom albums on Adorampix for them after the wedding.

So are we the only couple that went against tradition and got something other than a silver frame for our moms?

Nov 21, 2010

Dressing Up With Our Moms

When our two mom asked me what they should wear I was a total bridezilla. No not really. Actually I was the total opposite. My only criteria for them was that it had to be a shade of brown or tan (and that only came about because one of them said they were worried about wearing hot pink to match our colors). Other than that I wanted them to find a style that was comfortable and that they felt just amazing in.

First we started with Mama Meerkat. She wanted something flowy and feminine but that would cover her upper arms. I suggested Mama Meerkat look at the Alfred Angelo two piece dresses. So we headed down to the closest bridal store that carried AA which was Gretta's Bridal in South Bend, IN.

Once we got there we found they had a pretty good selection of the two piece mom dresses. It didn't take Mama Meerkat long to find a few dresses to try on. She started with what she thought would be her favorite; one with pants. 

Blech! Too Princess Jasmin from Aladdin. I think you can probably tell by her face that she really didn't like the pants or the shirt either. We quickly moved on to the next outfit.

I was taking the picture as she was shaking her head no at me. She didn't like this one at all and I couldn't blame her. It just wasn't her style. She is more of a fun, carefree spirit. This was just a bit too formal and... well to be honest, old fashioned. But by dress number three Mama Meerkat had found a winner.

This one she LOVED. She said it was comfortable, not old or frumpy and it was very sliming. Needless to say less than 15 minutes later we were ordering it. About two weeks later she was starting to second guess the purchase. Well the dress arrived last week and she went to get it hemmed. As soon as she put it on she loved it again. She looks absolutely beautiful in it.

Next up it was Mama-In-Law Meerkats turn. When we first started looking she, like Mama Meerkat, hated the standard mother dresses because they looked so frumpy. So months ago when she had found a skirt she loved, she bought it with the intention of putting a formal top to put with it. 

But a few weeks ago she started to second guess herself. She decided she wanted a more formal dress. So we headed up to Bellisima Bridal in Albion, MI. Seamstress L. had told us that the shop had a top floor with discontinued sample dresses that were $65 or less. We thought it could hurtn't to go look.

Of course first Mama-In-Law Meerkat had to scare me to death by tell me she was going to wear this beauty that came with detachable sleeves:

Yea we were cracking up at her modeling this for us but then we got down to business. There was only a handful of dresses in browns and tans but we got SUPER lucky and found one that made her look so beautiful. (Ignore the fact the back of the dress isn't zipped up in the picture.)

discontinued bridesmaid dress by Impressions Bridal

Guess how much she payed for it? $15!!! Why so cheap you ask? Some of the designers when they send sample gowns stamp their name in small print across the back. For most people this would be a problem but since Mama-In-Law Meerkat has a larger rib cage Seamstress L. was going to have to alter it anyway to put in a corset style back which removed the portion of material with the stamp on it.

With two dresses in totally opposite styles I was wondering if they would clash but you know they ended up looking pretty good together.

Now we have two happy moms who are going to look so very beautiful at our wedding.

Did any of your moms have trouble finding dresses because they were too frumpy or old fashioned?

Nov 18, 2010

I hate mugshots!


No not those kind of mugshots. I am talking the "traditional" family photos taken at weddings. You know the ones where everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder like they are in a police line up.

To me that feels like a mugshot. I know, I know. Moms love this stuff but they are just not us! I already have a ton of these kind of photos from various family get togethers. What I want is creative, fun photos of our family and bridal party.

These are way more our style. It looks less forced and like everyone is having a ton more fun. 

After I had mentioned this idea to a few people I got horrified looks like I was committing some kind of crime against nature. Is it really that wrong to not want the traditional? Everyone keeps telling me I will regret not having formal, posed photos. I'm just not convinced I will.

Has anyone else thought about bailing on the traditional photos? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this!

Then and Now - Meerkat Flashback

So you want a look into the Meerkat past? Cue up the Wayne's World flashback music please.


I am going low budget here. Just pretend. KThanks. :)

Growing up I was not your typical teenager. In high school my life revolved around two things; softball and friends. If I wasn't training with MOH Meerkat, we were out with our friends at the beach or having a bonfire in my back yard. I never went crazy partying or out every weekend. All those typical teenager activities bored me.

Some of our friends at prom.

As far as relationships went I did a little bit of random dating here and there but nothing serious. And acedemics... HA! I did my best to do as little as possible without failing. Mostly I just wanted to play softball. I had tunnel vision where softball was concerned. It was an obsession which of course MOH Meerkat helped fuel because she loved it just as much as I did.

MOH Meerkat (right) and I after a softball game senior year.

It wasn't until college that I realized that I was more than just an obsessed softball player. MOH Meerkat and I went to two different schools so I no longer had my softball training buddy. On top of that I randomly decided to start taking programming classes at my university's engineering college and it was love from the first line of code I wrote. Until that point I never knew I had any kind of smarts. I guess if I had actually tried to do homework in high school I might have figured it out quicker. So I quit playing softball competitively (I still play for fun) and went from jock to intellectual in a semester.

College also brought about more serious dating for me. What I found out quickly was guys in the engineering college were way more intriguing than high school guys. Most were smart, fun and had a awesome sense of humor which I quickly learned was what my taste in men ran towards. And then who should walk into my life but Mr. Meerkat. He was all the things I loved; tall, handsome, smart and with a wicked sense of humor. We became good friends while coaching a kids robotics team together and a few month after we met started dating.

Mr. Meerkat tickling me while Sister-In-Law Meerkat was trying to take our photo.

Of course long before high school I said I would never get married but Mr. Meerkat, well hes a nester and he had other plans. We laugh about it now but it wasn't even a year after we started dating when he told his mom that I was the girl he was going to marry. So it came as no surprise to anyone (well except me!) when Mr. Meerkat took me to Mackinac Island and proposed. Everyone was happy when we told them about the engagement and probably a little shocked too because of how adamant I was about not getting married.

As I look back at who I was then, I am happier than I have ever been. I always said that the whole 2.5 kids with a two car garage in the burbs wasn't my thing and it still isn't. But what I have learned is that 2 dog and 2 cats in a home we bought together with my very own foof chair to play video games in is exactly what I always wanted. *blissful sigh*

Nov 17, 2010

Mr. Meerkat Gets A Wedding Band

For the last few months we have been wrestling with trying to get a wedding band made for me. While that's  a story for a whole other post, lets just say it has been painful. So when it came to Mr. Meerkat's ring my first thought was "please, no, not another jewelry store". We only have a little less than a month until we get married and it was high time we went to get Mr. Meerkat his ring. So this past weekend that is exactly what we did. 

Luckily Mr. Meerkat already knew basically what he wanted. He wanted a light weight, scratch resistant ring. He wanted a tungsten ring. I thought it was going to be hard to find but was pleasantly surprised that every jewelry store in our local mall carried tungsten rings made by either Art Carved or Triton.

We shopped for less than 1/2 an hour and Mr. Meerkat found four rings he liked:

The first two photos were Art Carved rings and the last two were from Triton. 

The rings were all about the same price but the first two were having 20% and 30% off sales. I was sure that Mr. Meerkat would go for one of the ones on sale cause he is money conscious like that but he didn't. He narrowed it down to the ones in the last picture. 

We stood there for about five minutes until he decided he wanted the silver one. When I asked him how he decided he said while he really liked them both but the black one didn't match his other jewelry like his watch. I just laughed and thought how much I love this man. I never would have thought that far ahead but he does.

Seriously, how is it so easy for guys to pick out their rings but its taken me months of problem to get mine? Was it this easy for your fiancé to find his ring or is Mr. Meerkat just easy? *grin*

Nov 16, 2010

Etsy - How Not To Get Burned

Recently I was burned on Etsy (as in never got my purchase) and let me tell you it SUCKS! In an effort to help everyone else not get burned I thought I would write up a few guidelines about buying on Etsy. First lets start with the story of what happened so you can see where I went oh so wrong.

This summer I purchased a custom parasol from Michelles This and That on Etsy which was scheduled to be painted Mid-July. August came, no parasol. I messaged the seller to find out where my parasol was and she told me she was just getting ready to start it. At this point my spidey senses were telling me there was danger ahead but I brushed them aside.

September arrived but still no parasol. When I messaged her again I was assured she was sending it out right then and she sent me a delivery confirmation number. The package never got delivered no matter how many times I desperately clicked the refresh button on the USPS tracking page. When I inquired back to the seller she said it must have been "lost" in the mail. She then offered to make me a new one and I once again ignored those darn spidey senses.

I spent most of October messaging the seller with no response. When I finally had had enough and asked for a refund she responded within 10 minutes of my message. She said she was waiting for me to respond to her message asking for address confirmation (a message I never got). At this point my brain was screaming at me "Danger Will Robinson. Danger!" but once again I ignored it cause I REALLY wanted this parasol. I confirmed my address and she sent another USPS delivery confirmation number. Two weeks later still no parasol.

At that pointI decided to take a look at her feedback only to see that two other brides within the past two weeks had left negative reviews for undelivered parasols. It is now the middle of November, I have no parasol and there is little chance I will ever see it or my money again.

So lets go over the mistakes I made so you can avoid getting burned:

1.) 45 days is the limit for paypal disputes
If the seller quotes you a date that is more than 45 days from the date of purchase ask to wait to pay until the seller is within 45 days for completing the project.

2.) Pay half down and half when the product ships
I wish I had asked to pay half down to cover supplies and half down at time of shipping. At least this way there was a chance that the second half of my payment would have been made within the 45 days I could dispute it.

3.) Keep an eye on the shops reviews
When I ordered my parasol I saw nothing in her reviews that worried me. Once I purchased the item I never went back to look at her reviews. Had I kept my eyes open I would have seen her reviews slowly getting worse and worse.

4.) Report abuse to Etsy
If for any reason you think a seller is doing something wrong like this you can report the issue to I included full documentation of conversations with the seller and copies of her other negative reviews showing the same issues.

Any other tips I am forgetting about?

Nov 15, 2010

Planning A "Wicked" Bachelorette Party

I in no way, shape or form am a party girl. On a typical Friday night you can find us Meerkats at dinner with friends and then out to a movie. We like the simple life. And that simple life doesn't involve what most people would do for a "typical" bachelorette party. I want nothing to do with bars, strippers or penis shaped cakes.

Sorry MOH Meerkat. I know you were hoping for an all out flash-back-to-the-college-years style debacle but I want to do something I will be able to remember the next morning.

Sister Meerkat started off the brain storming process to find alternatives to the traditional party. Her first thought was to get dressed up all sex in the city style and head out to one of the local casinos.

I think that idea lasted about three weeks until it was replaced by the idea to hop the train and head into Chicago for the day. Only problem was that we would only be in Chicago from 11am - 5pm and we couldn't come up with a single thing that we could do in that time frame as a group other than eat and shop. Which is fine but I don't know, something was missing.

Now during all this we found out that the musical Wicked was coming to Kalamazoo.

ZOMG, ZOMG, ZOMG! Mr. Meerkat and I have been DYING to see this but the tickets were ranging from $65-$150 each. Neither one of us felt right about spending that much with the wedding so close. Then I started thinking what if instead of buying a train ticket to Chicago we got tickets to see Wicked? When I proposed the idea to everyone I got a resounding "we have been dying to see that too!"

Everyone loved the idea so now are going to get all dressed up, go out to an awesome dinner just us girls in downtown Kalamazoo and then meet up with our guys to go see Wicked. Done and done! While it felt kind of odd suggesting the idea for my own party I am really glad I did.

I am dying to know if I am the only one out there who isn't into the whole bar/stripper/penis cake scene? What did you end up doing for your party?

Nov 14, 2010

Rocks, Rocks And More Rocks

You have read all about our venues and the ceremony decor but I have not talked at all about the reception decor. Well there is a good reason for that. Up until a couple days ago I had no idea what it was going to look like. Total fail, I know. Isn't this like one of the things you should figure out at the beginning of your planning?

I think my problem started when all the photos I found while researching were elaborate, flower filled tables. I am not into flowers. I wanted something simple. Then a few days ago I came across this photo:

And it got me thinking. Wouldn't it be cool if we could have a unifying element that brought all the things on the table together. Why not use the rocks to do that?  So I started researching a little more and found some inspiration for centerpieces with rocks in them.

But when I saw this photo I did a little victory wiggle in my chair because I knew this was perfect!

Add a table runner, some small votive candles and a few rocks scattered around:

Plus perhaps a Martha Stewart style I-Spy game for the table. Our very own HisPookie created a great example for her wedding:

And you end up with something like this:

Yea OK my Photoshop skillz are not the best but what do you think? Does it fit with the rustic-chic feel we are going for?