Monday, April 16, 2012

We Need Your Help!

Hi everyone!
We are in the final stages of our fundraising for Rwanda. We are so blessed to be over 60% funded, but we can still use all the help we can get before our deadline of May 1st. 
Here's some more info about what we'll be doing on our trip:
The pygmy people we will visit have never had proper shelter, and they sometimes sleep standing up in the rainy season to avoid sleeping in puddles of water. The majority of the children will not live to see the age of 5. They have historically been a very marginalized people, so as a sign of respect we will be the first team of several to build the people traditional Rwandan homes.  
The funding for our trip will cover travel, airfare, building supplies, and food on our trip. We will also be partnering with and Crocs to bring additional supplies with us, including 100 pairs of shoes, and various knitted hats, socks, and quilts. Any additional funding we receive will go towards the cost of lugging these extras overseas with us. 
We will be sleeping in the village as a team, with no running water or electricity (we'll even be doing our business in holes!). We'll be learning about the Rwandan people, about the genocide that has affected their hearts and culture, and we'll also be taking day trips to reach out to University students, and to council with men and women dealing with a cultural myth that encourages men to rape village women. In other words, we hope to get as much as possible accomplished with our time there! 
We have just over two weeks to raise our remaining funds. We appreciate every dollar!
Here are some instructions about how to vie to our trip online:
Create a login and sign in
Under the "fund" form, click "theMILL"
Under the subform, scroll down to choose "Rwanda 2012: Ben Mercuri" (or Karleen).
If you'd prefer not to use the online giving, feel free to send via PayPal to
Many thanks to all those who have and will consider supporting us!
Karleen & Ben 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

DIY Terrarium

I've been loving trending terrariums floating around on my favorite blogs lately, so I couldn't resist making my own. While I would've loved to pick up a gorgeous kit from Score+Solder, I was able to pick up the materials for a quarter of the price.

What You'll Need:
Activated Charcoal (also called activated carbon, you can find it in the aquarium section of pet stores)
Planter Rocks
Cactus Soil (I used regular potting soil, I'll let you know how it goes!)
Succulent Plants
A Glass Bowl or Container (ours is a lantern from Ikea)

The set up is simple. Charcoal layered on the bottom, rocks, soil with plants, then another layer of rocks on the top for looks. And voila! A terrarium.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Mad Men Style

Our New Year's Eve plans are typically pretty low-key. Back in Chicago we have a tradition of spending it with two of our best friends making crazy drink concoctions and/or sledding. But this year we gather all of our good buds and threw a bash with the New Year's worthy theme of our favorite show Mad Men.

How we pulled it off:

The Set Up
We thrifted for some cute era-appropriate decor including a mid-century fondue pot and knick knacks. I pulled my favorite Mad Men party invite off of pinterest, and had Ben make us one to mimic it.  We kept the decor simple, with a few tissue paper poms and some fringed streamers.

We snagged a few boxes of candy cigarettes that could be seen in most any hand all evening. Ben also made an awesome "Sterling Cooper Draper Price Mercuri" image to display on our TV all night, and Pandora Mad Men Station made my life a whole lot easier.

The Food & Drinks
The food was the easiest part, since the grub of this era was relatively simple. We laid out dips, ham sandwiches, pizza pinwheels, pigs in a blanket and cheese fondue along with finger-foodish desserts. Drinks were key for this party though. We denied the admittance of trashy red party cups, and allowed only rocks glasses and campaign flutes. We also turned away beer, and asked people to bring their favorite hard alcohol. We set out a few ready-made creations like Old Fashions and Amaretto Sours (our favorites).

The Photobooth
I pulled all the era-appropriate looking furniture we had and put it in front of some old pieces of fabric. The "booth" was packed the entire night, and kept our guests well entertained (well before the hard liquor set in).

We drank, we laughed, we snapped photos, and we popped poppers at midnight. It was a blast, and I can conclusively say we're now theme party adicts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Photog & Hux Updates

We've been mighty busy lately, chasing around our rapidly growing puppy, and working working working. Huxley is not a chubby fuzz ball anymore. It makes me a little sad to see his babyhood go, but I'm also ready to feel condifent that he's not coyote bait.

We shot our first wedding together as a husband/wife photog team last weekend. Unexpectedly, shooting a wedding is the most exhuasting thing ever. Afterwards, I told Ben that he'd have to go it alone from now on. It was tiring to come up with poses, go all day without sitting or eating, and feeling like a totally inadequate professional all night. But it turns out that shooting a wedding is like getting a tattoo. While it's going on, you're thinking, "Why am I doing this? I don't like pain, I could be at home on my couch right now." But as soon as you've given it a few days, you want another.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Tidbits

We didn't make it back to Chicago this year, and I was a little apprehensive about my first Christmas away from home. But we truly enjoyed our first holiday as a little family this year (and thank goodness for skype, we got to see everyone anyway). 

Here's some snaps of our Christmas weekend. 

We handmade all of our Christmas gifts this year, which was a ton of work, but totally worth it. The guys in the family got mustache mugs and a spiced coffee mix. The ladies got a stationary set with my handmade stamps (and an initial stamp of their own) and homemade vanilla extract. We were a little stressed, but had a blast doing this together. 

Huxley was spoiled with a new bed. 

We climbed! Our friend Kenny spoiled us with holds, so we set some new fun stuff on the wall and climbed away the afternoon. Pictures of the finished wall coming soon!

We had a very American breakfast, and a very Polish dinner with friends. 

I'm bummed to have to go back to work and leave my boys at home all week, but after a day of thrifting we are super excited about our Mad Men themed Christmas party this weekend!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Official, We're Headed to Rwanda!

Okay, so I realize we have about a gallion things to update you all on. But I figured I'd just jump right in with the most exciting.

We're going to Rwanda! Summer of 2012 we'll be heading out on a mission trip with our church here in Colorado, to reach a pygmy tribe outside of Kigali, Rwanda. This trip has already become very close to my heart, and I've been waiting for years for God to provide an oppurtunity like this. We are so beyond excited!

The tribe we'll be visiting loses 95% of their children before they reach the age of 5, largely due to the fact that they do not have adequete resources including shelter. So our goal is to build homes for the 88 families living in the village, in hopes that it will help them withstand the rainy season.

The trip will be pricey for the two of us, as we'll be bringing so many supplies for this project and traveling to such a remote area. So if you have any interest in supporting us, I'll be updating on some fun ways to do so soon!

In the meantime, River's Promise recently posted a video of a woman from the tribe we'll be visiting, and her gratefulness for their simple gift of blankets. How amazing is it that we get to top the blankets tenfold with homes!