Archive for April, 2011

Some Different Art

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Posted by Michael, April 28th, 2011

It’s not every day that I look for art — especially when I have the patience of a 2 year old.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate it; I just don’t know how to apply it to our various spaces.  But there has been one site that I continually check for new works.  I have no idea how I stumbled upon it, but I’ve been absolutely hooked.

No, I’m not talking about Etsy.  I’m predictable, but not that predictable.

The site I’m loving (and no, I’m not being paid to write this post) introduces two new editions each week, one photo and one work on paper.  And GASP!  It’s incredibly affordable, too.  Each edition is reprinted 200 times for 20 bucks.  Granted it’s a small reprint, the idea is still incredibly inspiring.  And I’ll quote the founder to prove so:

(limited editions x low prices) + the internet = art for everyone

They do offer larger reprints, but at the same general idea.  For instance, they sell 20 16″x20″ reprints for $200 a pop, 500 reprints of 11″x14″ at $50.

The site? 20×200.

When I first ventured on the site, I immediately fell in love with, and then purchased, a great piece.  Mainly because I’m a huge Apple fanboy.  I can admit it.

What you are looking at is a photograph of the Apple 1 by Mark Richards.  Even now while looking at the photograph, I’m doing that geeky laugh/giggle.  So needless to say, it didn’t take much for me to drop $50 for a 11″x14″ reprint.

These works, by Craig Damrauer, have been continually calling my name as they go with a lyric that Rebecca and I are always saying, Hold your own / know your name/ and everything will be fine.  I’m debating if I should just pick them up, place them in a frame and hang them in the office.  Sadly, I’m not quite sure if they’ll fit with the green rug and accessories.

I’m doing that geeky giggle with this print, too.  It’s a photograph of an old and dissambled flip clock by Todd McLellan.  Lately I’ve been inspired by technology that we take for granted every day.  I mean, look at this thing; look at all the parts that made this time-telling device possible.  We go about our day, every day, just taking devices like this for granted.  We don’t think about why they work or how they work.  We just go about our day taking advantage of the service or information they provide.

Album 1, by Paul Madonna, is another edition I have been eye-ing.  In the description, Paul writes,

“Though I’ve been drawing and writing for as long as I can remember, music is the medium that has influenced me the most. I love the thought of an album being a collection that encapsulates a period of ideas, work and life into a tidy package, allowing the artist to work through a creative goal then move on to the next.”

How true is that though?  How often does music inspire and influence us?  For me, far too often.   I honestly don’t know where I would be without music.  There are certain albums that have guided me through tough times, wonderful events, and so forth.  And ten bucks says this is something that we can all relate with.

I think this might just make its way into the office; though I don’t think Rebecca knows this just yet (oh, hey wife!).  The print is In the Ballpark by Tatsuro Kiuchi.  If you’ve ever seen the movie City Slickers, there is a great quote in there.

“Whenever my father and I couldn’t talk about anything else, we could always talk about baseball.”

My father and I have a great relationship.  Sure, growing up we had our differences — but what father-son relationship doesn’t?  Communication wasn’t our strongest trait when I was young; we were both just too much alike to see eye-to-eye.  And when I was 12 or 13 years old and when my father and I couldn’t talk about anything else, we could always talk about baseball computers.  It was our ice breaker.  It was the one thing that was “ours” and nobody else’s. And while today I can talk to my dad about anything and everything, including how I didn’t lose his precious jig-saw, baseball is becoming “our” thing; our time together.

I was going to end this post with the baseball print above, but then I saw this print.  And then I saw Macky eat a stink bug.  His second stink bug, that I know about, in 48 hours.  Macky is just too funny and when I saw this print, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Though Macky is currently at the top of the stairs crying and screaming at the top of his tiny lungs.  I guess he wants to go to bed and that was my queue to wrap this up.  And suddenly, he’s not very funny anymore….

A Tale of Two Kitties

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Posted by Rebecca, April 26th, 2011

This is the longest post I have ever written, but the subjects are totally worth it :)

Five years ago tomorrow, our lives were forever changed without us even knowing. Somewhere deep in the bushes of my parents house, a litter of precious kittens were born. Around 4 weeks later, we discovered them.

In fact, here is a picture from that day.

These two exact kittens would find their way into our home and teach us selflessness, worry, patience, responsibility, and most importantly, love and heartbreak.

It all started with Macky. If you know anything about Macky at this point, you know that he needed a dramatic entrance into our lives. I had just graduated from college, literally several days before, when I walked outside to see if I could spot that litter of adorable kittens anywhere. It was a Monday, and Mike and I were leaving for our first big vacation together that Friday, a graduation celebration of sorts. He was going to pick me up to go shopping for some vacation clothes when I spotted a lifeless kitten in the driveway.

And by lifeless, I mean I thought I had spotted a dead kitten. The kitten was covered in flies, soaking wet, ribs sticking out, covered in every bodily fluid imaginable. It was one of the most upsetting sights I had ever seen in my life. Then I saw that kitten take a breath. I had to wipe my tears and spring into action. I had no clue what I was doing or what I should be doing, but I ran into my parents house to grab an old dishtowel. By the time Mike had arrived, I was standing in the driveway, holding a practically dead kitten in my hands.

We jumped in the car and headed to a vet. When we arrived the vet told us he was in horrible condition. Showing her disgust that he was covered in diarrhea and maggot eggs, she told us he was literally being eaten alive. Then she gave us her advice, something I will never forget, she told us we should put him down.

We of course refused. I asked if they could clean off his bugs and stabilize him so we could bring him home. They told us it would be expensive and I guess they thought that since we were two young people, we wouldn’t pay the bill. But we were adamant, so the little kitten had his bugs removed, received an IV of sugar water for a few hours and then we were told we could pick him up. The total? $200. The result? A baby kitten named Macintosh Hercules, weighing in at just one half of a pound. It was the best decision of our lives.

He lived in a laundry basket lined with a heating pad that first night.

At that point, we started documenting Macky’s adventures in a blog (eventually named macandsunny.com). I am forever thankful to have so many little stories and pictures saved on the internet.

We sat vigil and fed him every 2 hours as we were told to.

But, Mac did not want to eat at all. He slowly developed an appetite over the next 2 days and started to lick milk off of our fingers. Within another few days, he was lapping milk from a lid. Then we gradually mixed some soft food in with his milk. It formed a ridiculously sticky substance that we couldn’t get off of his little face.

Within several days we knew we were in trouble. This little guy had one hell of a personality.

In the beginning, he wouldn’t go anywhere without us. He slept in our dining room and wouldn’t enter the family room unless we did first and called him. The carpet was like tall grass for him and he cried every time he had to make the long trek. His litter box at the time was just a tiny shoe box lid.

Then came the time when Mike and I had to go on our vacation and leave our new buddy. Mike posted this on our blog:

Two weeks ago, I was psyched to go on this cruise. I mean totally psyched — new places to see, a new adventure, and certainly time away from the rib-joint and Rutgers.

And now? As we leave for the cruise tomorrow afternoon? My feelings have certainly changed. I never imagined how a little kitten could impact my feelings. He’s such an incredible little guy and already holds so much of my love. I’m sure going to miss him. I plan on bringing him home some sunglasses, maybe some Bahamas sand, too. Oh, and a neat little pina colada umbrella, too.

I miss him so much already and I haven’t even left New Jersey yet. :(

The good news? We just might be coming home to Mac and one of his brothers or sisters. Keep your fingers crossed! Two bundles of joy! If it’s a boy, I’m hoping to name him Pixel. And a girl? Maggie or Pixie. Regardless, we gave full naming rights to Rebecca’s parents. I just hope they keep our suggestions in their thoughts. ;)

My parents did snatch up one of Macky’s siblings for us. Not just any sibling, but this guy.

We were in love with this orange kitten even before Macky found himself in trouble. We considered taking in two of them and we knew we wanted that orange one. The problem was that these cats were technically feral and at the time, we didn’t even know there were a total of 5 kittens. The two little fluffs in the pictures were the only two we had seen for weeks. And that orange one? He was friendly from day one.

My parents were able to get their hands on him and brought him to the vet. We were told via email on our cruise that we had a new baby boy, and that Mac loved him immediately. They had been separated for over a week now, so we were worried that the orange kitten would reject Mac for whatever reason or would bully him. Once we got home, we realized our fears about this big orange kitten, who weighed double of what Macky weighed, were completely unwarranted.

We named him Sunny, which wasn’t one of our name choices, but we couldn’t resist because of his bright color and sweet demeanor.

We officially had the two cutest kittens in the world, and they were the best of friends.

Macky quickly developed into the troublemaker- overly curious, couldn’t sit still and loved to play. Sunny was a giant lover- he would cuddle with you, clean you and get so happy to see you that he panted like a puppy. They were the ying to each other’s yang and they worked so well together.

Except for that time when they were 6 months old and Sunny accidentally broke Macky’s leg in the middle of the night. They were running around at 3am and Sunny knocked over a giant surround sound speaker. I guess Macky wasn’t paying attention and it landed on him, breaking his leg at the hip. Noticing he was in pain, we brought him to the vet who told us it was just a sprain. She gave him a cortisone shot and told us he’d be fine. The next morning, Macky was actually crying tears. We knew this wasn’t right and called back. They told us to bring him back in, where another vet found a break very high up on his leg. Macky spent 4 nights in the hospital and required surgery. Poor kitten could not catch a break!

The first year of their lives were riddled with vet visits, mostly for Macky. He often got sores on his mouth similiar to ulcers that puppies get when they chew things they aren’t supposed to. Macky became a pro at taking anti-biotics and actually liked the taste of them.

Sunny on the other hand, was a much easier cat. He was laid back and the sweetest thing you’d ever meet. One of my favorite Sunny memories was documented on their blog. We had a party one night and Sunny was beyond excited to see so many people:

Let me tell you, Sunny was the life of the party on Monday night. He was roaming around from person to person — “play?” “pettt meee?” “make me go in circles!” are just some of his catch phrases of the night. At one point, Sunny decided to sleep in the middle of the living room. He was so entirely comfortable with everyone. Sunny certainly made us proud.

Sunny was quickly assigned the role of kitty ambassador. People who didn’t like cats, loved Sunny. We could have 20 people in our house and he would go from person to person, greeting them with a purr and a whip of his giant Maine Coon tail. He was a dream.

During the kittens’ first year, we rescued Mowie. Macky and Mowie have had a love/hate relationship from day one. But Mowie and Sunny? Secret cuddle partners. Sunny was able to tame the vicious beast that was Mowie when we first took her in.

We even managed to get a family picture once.

With their first birthday quickly approaching, I wrote this:

Tomorrow Mac and Sunny will turn 9 months old. That’s 3/4 of a year, 75%. It’s amazing how quickly they have grown up. That’s why it’s wonderful to have this site and look at the archives from June, August, even October and see how much they’ve changed. The two of them used to fit in half a shoe box together…now Sunny’s tail won’t even fit in a shoe box. Their personalities are still the same as the little ones they had when we first met them. Sunny has always been super sweet and laid back, Mac is a little hyper and has the cutest facial expressions…they just have such adorable personalities. Although they’re getting old, they still have this kitten naiveness to them, which Mowie doesn’t have. Or maybe Mowie has a good sense of judgement regardless. Even though Sunny is nearing Mowie’s height and length, you can still tell he is the younger of the two. Brace yourselves for April 27, 2007 and the biggest first birthday party you’ve ever seen. Think super sweet 16…cat style.

We were looking forward to getting past that first year of crazy kittenhood. We enjoyed a lot of fun times after that- Macky learned how to play fetch, Sunny wandered into the fireplace and became covered in black, and they discovered a secret hideaway in our kitchen.

Yes, Macky just so happens to be a phenomenal fetcher, as we captured in this grainy video where Sunny joins in at the end.

We also had fun at Christmas time a few years ago. This video shows Mac and Sunny’s personalities better than I ever could in words. Sunny decided to lay on the gifts, while Macky attacked the camera.

But we had no clue what the end of year two would bring. If I could go back and hit pause, enjoy that moment of naivety, I would.

Sunny began having seizures in late 2007. We of course had no clue what was happening to him and spent a lot of time going from vet to vet, specialist to specialist, receiving no answers. He was doing okay though and always bounced right back from them. I took this video the day after one of his seizures, to show our family and friends that he was doing okay.

We took a weekend trip to Ohio in April 2008. We were nervous about Sunny’s seizures and decided to bring the cats to Mike’s parents for the weekend, so that he could have someone with him 24/7. They did great all weekend and we picked them up on Mac and Sunny’s 2nd birthday, April 27.

We had Mac and Sunny in one carrier and as we brought them up the stairs in our condo complex, just a flight from our front door, Sunny had a seizure. The details are all in this post.

He stayed overnight at the emergency vet to be monitored and when we picked him up, he was SO excited. He actually ran out of the carrier on the vet table to see us. We had to tell him to get back in, we had to get home! They whole ride home he was rolling around and purring. He wasn’t even mad that we kept him there overnight. He was such a little saint.

A few days later, Sunny became very sick. He was vomiting non-stop and had a fever. We brought him to our local vet, then an emergency vet, who told us they couldn’t handle his illness and they didn’t think he would make it. But he was fine just several days ago??? We couldn’t wrap our head around it. His entire digestive system was paralyzed and he couldn’t retain any food. Plus his fever was soaring. They suggested we bring him to Red Bank Animal hospital, over an hour away, since they had better technology to diagnose him.

That car ride was the worst ride of my life. I was so scared he was going to die on the way there. And if he didn’t, I felt like I would. I couldn’t catch my breath from the news we just got, I couldn’t even see straight. We got to Red Bank and they gave us a little hope, they were optimistic that they could try a few things to save him.

He had surgery to insert a feeding tube so he could at least receive some nourishment to fight whatever this was. In surgery, they biopsied a piece of his tissue and determined he had panleukopenia, or feline distemper. 70% of cats who contract this illness do not survive. We still believe to this day that he caught this highly contagious disease from his overnight stay at the vet.

Sunny hung on for a week and had began to look better. One day we went to visit him in the kitty ICU and he actually stood up when he saw us. Before that, he wasn’t able to even lift his head! We were hopeful, until he suddenly took a turn for the worst. The next time we went to visit him, one of the vet interns tearfully told us they didn’t think they could do anything else to get his digestive system to work. We looked at him and we knew he had had enough. So on May 21, 2008, less than a month after his 2nd birthday, Sunny went to heaven.

It was completely devastating for all of us, and my heart still hurts for Macky. We still struggle with how a sweet innocent cat like Sunny could suffer through what he did. He was one of the most amazing living beings I have ever met, full of pure innocence and sweetness.

We slowly tried to pick up the pieces of our lives and adopted Darwin in October 2008 to keep our lonely Macky company. Darwin had cerebellar hypoplasia- a condition that could have developed if his mother contracted panleukopenia while pregnant and survived. Plus he was orange. We thought that adopting an orange cat who survived panleukopenia was a fitting tribute to Sunny. So we named him Darwin Sunny. Darwin was the name given to him by the rescue group.

But Macky wasn’t safe to resume his normal kitten antics.

On April 26, 2009, a day before his 3rd birthday (and a year after Sunny’s last seizure), Macky had his first seizure. We could not believe this was happening again. The fear we had for him, and still have for him, is probably at an unhealthy amount.

There was one difference this time, we were educated. We knew how rare feline seizures were, so rare that whenever we told a vet Sunny had seizures they didn’t believe us. So we immediately brought Macky to the neurologist at Red Bank, who deals with mostly epileptic dogs. And this point we’re thinking, it HAS to be genetic. Two siblings with seizures? But because feline seizures are so rare, they told us not to get our hopes up, chances were Macky has an underlying illness.

We went home and decided we would see how he did. No booking of MRIs and no tests, because in my heart, I believe he is just epileptic. He had a cluster of 3 seizures that night, which Sunny never had. Six weeks later we moved in with my inlaws to begin the process of buying our house. When we moved him he had 1 seizure.

We moved Macky into the house on April 23, 2010, 4 days before his 4th birthday. He didn’t have a seizure when we moved him this time. We were terrified he wouldn’t make it here, or that he’d go into a cluster of seizures in the car. We weren’t even excited about moving because we were so terrified.

For the first time in two years, Macky had a Happy Birthday. And then something magical happened- he went nearly a full year in between seizures.

This year he had one seizure in June and one in December. I think it’s safe to say that this year was his best year yet.

There is something very special about Macky. He has this emotional bond with us and loyality to us that sometimes is unbelievably human. He is extremely intelligent and knows when we’re happy, sad, stressed or not paying enough attention to him in a given week. A few months ago I was really sick, so sick that Mike went to sleep on the couch and I texted him things I needed so that he wouldn’t catch my virus. But Macky came upstairs around every hour, gave me his under his breath call, which not quite a meow but more of a way to announce he’s in the room. There is no doubt in my mind that he was worried about me. Mowie and Darwin didn’t do this, nor did they sleep on my feet like he did. And Macky never sleeps with us unless he knows something is wrong. He really is one in a million.

Macky still has the crazy personality he had as a kitten, but lately he’s been showing more of his Sunny side. He is the best big brother to Darwin, taking him under his wing as Sunny once did for him. He has gotten huge in our house, growing like a fish in a bigger tank. He loves his bed and announces when he wants to go upstairs, he still plays fetch and we love him with every single ounce of us. We are so proud of him, he has been through so much in 5 years. And I’m proud of us, for never taking no for an answer and fighting to get him where he is on this very bittersweet day. I think it’s safe to say that our relationship with Macky is co-dependent- we need him just as much as he needs us.

Happy 5th Birthday Macintosh, here’s to 20 more with your loveable face.

And of course, Happy Birthday to Sunny too. I hope they serve birthday cake in heaven :)

Easter Flowers

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Posted by Rebecca, April 25th, 2011

Mike and I made a last minute decision to host Easter yesterday. We literally did all of our grocery shopping at 8:00 on Saturday night and were flying by the seat of our pants up until our families arrived, going with the no plan plan. I’m not a big holiday/seasonal decorator, with the exception of Christmas and a little Thanksgiving, so there was not much to do to get ready. I wanted to dye eggs but we just didn’t have the time to this year. So when I spotted some pretty colored hydrangeas at the grocery store I just couldn’t resist!

I placed them in some Kate Spade Larabee Dot vases we received as a wedding gift.

I’ve been itching to use these, but thanks to my highly allergic husband and flower eating cats, there aren’t many flowers we can pull off in here. Luckily, the cats didn’t even notice that I put the flowers on the buffet in the dining room.

I mixed in my icy blue pillar holders to get another pastel color mixed in and called it a day.

It took very little thought, but that purple hydrangea stem in that rose bowl has been making me smile ever since :)

Now if Macky would just fail to notice if I slipped it on the island or eat-in table…

Sprucing Up

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Posted by Rebecca, April 22nd, 2011

I mentioned last week that Mike and I had spent some time in the front yard clearing the death. Though we haven’t had a chance to do much other than just making it look not-bad, I figured I’d share some pictures until it looks just plain old good. So here we go, in mostly pictures :)

Two out of three bushes dead! Still thinking of what to replace them with…

The other side at least had some signs of life coming up in the middle of all that death.

Plus some mum skeletons mixed in.

But! The two hydrangeas we planted last year are sprouting up! I was a little worried about them because we planted them late. They had beautiful blue flowers on them, then we got hit with a killer heat wave in early June and all of the flowers fell off :( The leaves stayed green, but they didn’t bloom ever again. Hopefully this year I can have flowers for long enough to put some around the house!

Hot mess going on in our little island garden.

So I gave them a little (okay a lot of) a haircut. That’s Mike in the background dealing with our dead patches of sod, from above mentioned heat wave last year.

Then I pulled out all of the plant skeletons.

And things started looking much better!

Reseeded (and thanks to the rain this week, it’s green now!)

So now we just need to keep seeding our hearts out, doing rain dances (for the grass and the hydrangeas!), hunt down some replacement plants and freshen up the mulch in some spots and we’re good to go! :)

Vegetarian Chili

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Posted by Michael, April 20th, 2011

We usually do the vegetarian chili thing on cold wintery nights, but when Rebecca mentioned it the other day, how could we not make it?  And while it hasn’t exactly been spring here in good ol’ New Jersey, it’s not winter either.  We’ve been stuck in 40-50 degree weather for these last few weeks with the exception of a random 85ish day thrown in there.

I know when people hear vegetarian they, more than likely, think of something bland; this chili recipe is far from bland.  I think even if I did the meat thing, I’d prefer this chili.  The recipe is from The Way the Cookie Crumbles and it is one of the few recipes that I haven’t really put my own spin on (with the exception of adding a different vegetable or two).  It’s that damn good.

So here we go, the ingredients.

And in list format:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ? teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • Some garnishes: cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, etc.

First up, you’re going to combine the oil, peppers, onions, garlic and dry spices together in a large pot.  Saute this mixture on medium heat for a good 10-15 minutes.  We typically like our peppers a bit on the firm side, so I usually stay around the 10 minute mark.

Eventually this mixture will be somewhat brown from the cooking, the onions sweating and the spices.  Once brown, throw in the rest of your ingredients with the exception of the butter — tomatoes, beans and soy sauce.

We had some leftover peas in the freezer so I decided to throw them in the mix.  Honestly?  They didn’t do much for the chili — didn’t make it taste better nor did it taste worse.  At times, I’ve also added frozen corn to the mix.

Once you have everything together, turn up the heat to about medium-high.  You’ll want to bring this to a boil and once there, turn down the heat to low.  Cover and cook for a solid hour; stirring occasionally.

The butter?  Throw it in the mix right before serving.  It gives it a bit more of a richness flavor.  This time around, I didn’t use the butter as I felt the chili wasn’t lacking any richness.

That picture above?  Yeah, not mine.  I’m guessing my memory card wasn’t sitting right in the camera as I was snapping away.  Oops.  So the final product above is courtesy of The Way the Cookie Crumbles (thanks!).

As usual, we’re linking this up to What I Ate Wednesday at Peas and Crayons!

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