Tag Archive for 'home'

Annual Kusudama Ornament

Kusadama collection

Happy New Year! Matt and I sat down and made our annual kusudama Christmas ornament this weekend, just in time to pack away all the decorations. Actually, we made two because last year we never got one done. We have quite the collection now. I’m so glad that Matt enjoys making them as well.

In 2008 we started an annual tradition of making one of these #kusadama ornaments. Last year was the first year we didn't do one, so we made two this year to catch up. This one was made from a mylar coated wrapping paper which made it difficult to assembl

We made this mylar coated wrapping paper one. It made folding and creasing the paper a chore, but it looks very pretty on the tree.

And then here is the make-up #kusadama from last year. I don't know why it never occurred to me before, but I cut down an old 365 Met art calendar to make this one. It's especially fitting this year as my friend Fred that passed away a few months ago alwa

And this one is my new favorite. After piling up years and years of the 365 Metropolitan Museum of Art calendars, I had the idea to cut down some pages to make an ornament. It was actually perfect, because my coworker/friend Fred would always get this calendar for us. Every single day, the first thing he’d do is come and look at the new piece of artwork and then go look it up on google. He passed away a couple of months ago, and I wish I had thought to make him an ornament from a calendar years ago.

Below are the previous years’ ornaments.

Our annual #kusudama ornament. We've made one every year, starting in 2008. Our first one was an oops and ended up being about 10" in diameter, too big and heavy for the tree. #robayrekusudama

2011 ornament

Kusadama from 2012 (but made in 2013)

2010 kusudama ornament

2009 Kusudama ornament

kusadama recycled ornament

Just some facts about the ornaments if you are interested in making one for yourself:

Paper squares (64 pieces) should be no bigger than 3″ square for a resulting 4.5″ ornament. Trust me, our first “ornament” is about 12 inches in diameter! Next year if I remember, I’m going to try 2-2.5″ sized paper, but I’m not holding my breath, as I accidentally cut 4″ on one ornament again this year.

The instructions (if I remember correctly) say to use glue. There is no way you’d ever get this done if you were waiting for each piece of paper to glue together. The first year or two we used an adhesive tape, but that started acting funky over the years, so we have switched to glue gun and it speeds up the whole process and the pieces hold together SOLIDLY!

We follow this 2 step tutorial each year.



Work hours and my life lately

Blerg! I wrote a whole post and even hit publish. The next day I returned to my blog and it’s not there. Who knows what happened to it because only a partial, unedited draft remained in the auto back up in my blog dashboard. What’s weird is that after it went live, I even re-read it online, went back and changed a word or two and resaved it. The mysteries of the internets.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. My hours have been all wonky at work. The week before last I was waking up at 3 a.m. to get to work at 4 a.m. I was getting off at 2 p.m. but then because of the holiday season I was having to stay up super late to finish work for my shop. If subsisting on 3 hours of sleep a night wasn’t bad enough, I had to organize and throw a party Friday night.

My hours have regulated a bit closer to “normal” last week, but as I’ve learned as I have grown older, things I do to my body now don’t TRULY hit me until a while later. Two weeks out at going in to work a couple hours earlier and my internal clock is still not adjusted. This week I’ve been struggling more than I did last week. I’m waking up every hour panicked that I’ve somehow slept through the 3 alarm devices I’ve set. I come home from work and am ready for bed by 6. I remember hearing about a study that said that contrary to popular belief, you can’t catch up on sleep. Once you’ve lost sleep, sleeping more hours than normal doesn’t have any benefits. While it may not have any benefits, I beg to differ that my body (not my mind) wants more sleep than normal. Even tonight, I crashed from 6 p.m. until 9. Somehow I’m still maintaining my 10K steps per day (for the most part).

So, what else have I been up to?

It was a beautiful foggy day today #DeKalb #dekalbil

With new hours at work, I am beyond thrilled to get off of work with just enough time to see some daylight. This has really meant the world to me. I can’t stress how much I spin into a wreck every winter when there is less and less light and then after the time changes, forget about it, I become downright angry. Well, the last few weeks I get off work and feel like I am walking on clouds. We had some days of thick fog when I was working my 4 a.m. shifts and one day after work I went to the Lagoon and walked around and took pictures. While those around me complained about the fog, the daylight was just magical.

Our only #Christmas decoration up so far #wreath It's all about the tree this week. Having it lit just makes me happy. We worried because every year Bishop chews on it, but that's nothing now compared to Fionna. She just spreads the limbs, climbs inside and makes a nest (not pictured, unfortunately) She

We finally decorated for Christmas.

Our very first fire ever, in our #fireplace. Tonight we are decorating, listening to #Christmas music and even sipping holiday drinks.

After living in our house 2+ years, we finally got our chimney inspected and  cleaned. I had been waiting for this forever, dreaming of toasty fires keeping the house warm. Then the inspector shared that “everyone knows that running a fireplace can actually make your house more cold…” blah, blah, blah about drafty windows/doors as well as the thermostat. I was so bummed that we still didn’t have a fire for another week or so. But after we finally did, oh man, we haven’t looked back and have been having fires most evenings. I’ve actually found that having a fire makes our usually frosty (run from the door straight to under the blankets) bedroom to a normal, comfortable temperature.

Plus, it looks so festive, romantic and the cats LOVE it!

5 hours until I have to wake up, 6 hours until I need to be at work and what am I doing? Making Christmas decorations. #priorities

Continuing with the holiday decorations, I made a red and white pom pom garland to go over the mantel. Years back I made some pom poms from my handspun yarn to put in my etsy shop (they might even still be listed on there?) but let me just tell you!!!!!!!!!!! I bought a pom pom maker and this maker is the bomb! I think my friend Ann (a master pom pom maker) uses one too, so I should have known. The way I made them before wasted so much yarn from trimming. These pom poms come out almost perfect and need little to no trimming at all.

Matt and I at the gingerbread house making party. Thank you @cherronsue @uhlisuhzorz @stat1995 @katielicht @yenniec83 @courtneylarking it's been great to see my feed filled with your pictures.

I threw my annual gingerbread house making party. This was the 8th year! I have more pictures I would like to share, so maybe there will be another post in the near future.

Packaging orders

I’ve developed my packaging for my holiday garlands this year. The base now has gold embossing and I wrap each order in scalloped tissue paper. I just hope that each order feels that much more special upon arrival.

Part of a large order that went out this week. Some pieces I really loved in there. #robayre

I had a large order of necklaces and rings head out to Australia! I was thrilled with how the pieces came out and so happy with the way the resin worked for me.

Robayre Travel Journal and Stratum Necklaces with vintage atlas pages

I am thrilled to announce that Robayre travel journals (books similar to the one pictured above) and my vintage atlas spiral stratum necklaces are being sold at the Rockford, Illinois Visitor’s Center (East side, in the Clock Tower Center). This marks the first time my products have been for sale in a brick and mortar in Illinois. I’ve long had a dream of one day visiting a store that sells my items, and now that the   time is here I’m both EXCITED and NERVOUS to actually visit. Isn’t that funny?

#gelliplate #gelliarts #gelliprint #art #robayre  Paper Stencils

Then last Friday my best friend came over and we had a Gelli Arts date night. I covered the ping pong table with plastic, showed her an introduction video to the product on youtube and we dove in. I was a little worried about if she’d enjoy herself and love using the plate as much as I love it. I thought she’d like it because I remembered she had taken some printmaking in college. Well, she LOVED IT! In fact she kept saying how much fun she was having, how time was flying and how she wanted to buy her own plate now and how we have to do it again soon. The image above on the left is a thumbnail of a print, and the picture on the right was my stack of handcut paper stencils as I was putting everything away.

The cold and snow doesn't keep this kid from the park

After another good snow, my brother, sister and I took my nephew to the park. At one point he tripped in the snow and got snow between his mittens and sleeve. While I helped him get the snow out he told me “I fell and then I died.” I said, “well, you didn’t die” to which he replied “It’s just an expression!” Yeah, from the mouth of a 3 year old.

Love my lucky penny ring so much! Thank you @courtneylarking

Monday night I went to a book club meeting and my friend Courtney brought really thoughtful gifts for everybody. Additionally she gave me belated birthday gifts which included this awesome lucky penny ring that I love and never want to take off. I love that it is a wheat penny especially. My dad used to collect coins and so I’ve saved wheat pennies any time I’ve found one ever since I was a kid.

Being in the Studio

Studio door

Another thing that will hopefully help me get back into production mode is a clean studio. My studio is in the third bedroom of our home. It is entirely studio, not a guest room/studio. It is just filled with my art, craft and design related items, and boy is it filled. Recently it had gotten so cluttered the floor was pretty much covered. There were boxes upon boxes filled with scrap paper (I’m a vintage and decorative paper ephemera hoarder) and boxes were even overflowing onto the floor. It was a disaster. I’d go in there to start cleaning and organizing and I could only take 5 or so minutes before I just felt lost and had to leave. I’d eventually make progress in those 5 minute increments, but then I’d have some big project and it would get worse than before.

Fabric stash
Finally, last weekend my sister came over and spent 2 hours with me in my studio cleaning and organizing. I mostly put things away while she organized: folding and shelving my fabric stash, putting books back in order on the shelves and somehow consolidating all my paper stash down into 2 boxes! It’s amazing what 2 hours of hard, continuous work can do. My drawing table was tidy and there was room for me to do work at it, imagine that! My studio still isn’t perfect, but everything is off the floor and now I just need to do some major organization of shelves and hopefully pare down on things I don’t need or use that often.

The picture at the top of the post is the inside door of my studio. I keep a drawing sheet there where I list all the projects I want to work on. To the right there is a decorative “wind sock” by Ann of A Beautiful Party. Last week she posted about moving furniture around and how it takes her a long time to get fully settled into a new living space. I really relate to that. I always remember something I read or heard after moving into my second place. It was a stat and I don’t really even remember the exact details, but it was something like “it takes 6 months for the average person to really feel fully at home in a new place after moving.” I think about that so much and I have spent so much time online trying to find that same stat, with no luck. I remember thinking that it made sense but that for me it was probably more like a year. Well, that was a couple of moves ago. Now, I’m pretty sure that every time I’ve moved since then it takes me an additional 6 months before I get all the kinks out. It makes sense because here I am 2 years later and only now just starting to actually hang things on the walls. It’s all about committing and putting something in a place that you know will make sense, or finding that sweet spot for a piece of furniture that is most efficient.

It’s a little bit over 2 years since we moved into our current home. I went for a walk during the summer and walked by our old house. I saw my old studio window that was lit up at night and just had a moment where I missed that studio soooooo much. It was just a spare bedroom with one window and a big closet, the same as my current studio. It was on the second floor and my drawing table, under the window, looked out over a few of our neighbor’s yards. I think about all the time I spent in there and all the creative projects I worked on and feel like it held some sort of magic that maybe my new studio doesn’t have. Then I have to remind myself that when we first moved in to that house that I had major guilt for about a year and a half where I almost never even went into my studio. Matt never said anything to me, but I felt like we are paying all this money to be in a 2 bedroom home and I’d just walk past this room every day and never actually open the door and go in it.  It took me a good long while before I got things arranged in there to the point where everything flowed and I felt comfortable, but then after that point I was in there ALL THE TIME. I’m still waiting for that to happen at this new house. I know it will happen and I’m hoping with the recent organization that it is just around the corner. I’d really love the amount of time I daydream about working on art to reflect my actual time spent in the studio.

Ideally, by the end of the month I will be working in my studio all the time and it will be in good enough condition that I might share a little tour.

DIY Enlarged Photobooth Strip Print

Images above (left to right) Martha Stewart, Design Editor, and A Beautiful Mess

Well, another thing for the home, but I promise this is more of a designy-crafty-DIY type of a thing than home renovations. I’ve been seeing these large Debbie Carlos prints around for years, online and at renegade. I learned that blowing up your own pictures really big can make for some great artwork from all my years watching early Trading Spaces. A year or so ago people started posting about how you can get your own images blown up, in black and white, cheaply at copy stores, by just asking for blueprint or engineering copies. Brilliant!

Then a little bit ago I saw this great pin about making a life size photobooth strip from Today’s Creative Blog. I think that tutorial just pieced together 12×12 prints to look like they were all one strip, but I thought “why not take it a step further and just blow up a real photo booth strip?” I called up a local copy store and they said the largest size they print is 4’x3′ for only $5. The print is like a very large xerox and the paper is pretty similar weight to a nice copy machine paper. 4’x3′ is much wider than just one strip so I figured why not do a few strips side by side.

Working on a fun project idea. Some of my #photobooth strips from over the years.
just a few of my photo chemical photobooth pictures strips

While looking through my strips I realized I liked some pictures from a lot of the different strips and decided to piece together some of my favorites of Matt and I from over the years. I scanned 3 photobooth strips to get the background right, and then scanned all my strips for the individual pictures I wanted to place over the existing pictures. They are all real photobooth pictures, just not from the same strips. You could easily just scan complete strips and have them printed as is.

3.28.13 photobooth prints

Once again, I’m not a home decor photographer, but COME ON! Look how I was able to get two adorable kitties in the shot AND both are looking at the camera! I may have missed my calling to be a pet photographer. It’s like a family portrait of sorts above. Matt and I in the print, and the cats below. I said “too bad I didn’t remove the laptop from next to the couch” and Matt said “well, that’s part of the family too!”

A few extra ideas I had while doing this project:

I scanned the photobooth strips in at resolution of 1200 so that when they were printed out that huge they would still look pretty crisp.

The print is just stuck to the wall using wall tacky, which I’m not crazy about for the long run. I doubt I’d just find any picture frame that large that is in range for a $5 print. I need to look online for some framing ideas.

Think about what else you could print large. What about a face, Chuck Close style?! You aren’t limited to enlarging photographs either. It would be really cool to scan an object (fern leaf, needlework, heirloom lace, seeds, sequins) or photograph a sentimental object (wedding rings, baseball, keys, handwriting) you have and then blow up those images really big to display in your home.

You could get an even bigger impact by dividing your image up into parts, getting each piece printed out on the largest size paper and then piecing all the prints together on the wall.

Many years ago I remember finding the site rasterbator.net, and this project reminded me of that. I was glad to see the site is still up. Rasterbator allows you to upload a picture and then set the specifications (image dimension, as well as paper size) and the site will create a multi page PDF with your image blown up in half-tone. You can then print the pages from home and piece them together.

Last minute addition. I love this idea that MyCakies shared where she blew up a print of the Eiffel Tower and then let her children go to town painting it with watercolors. Instant Art!


I’m no decorator and this is no home decor blog

I’ll preface this blog post by saying I have a pet peeve when reading other people’s posts where they post a picture of something and then state “please disregard the mess”. Then, for the life of me, I’m looking at the picture and can’t see a single thing out of place or even a spec of dust. Those people will probably be repulsed by this post because, as the header states, I’m no home decorator and this is no home decor blog. I don’t have fancy wide angled lenses, professional lighting and a staged home. I have a (probably) decade old, used digital camera, minimal winter lighting and a very lived in home. So yeah, today I’m going to be one of those people… Please disregard the mess. Also, I just remembered about when I was renting and had no prospects of home buying it used to really annoy me when people would do these type of posts. I was reading their blogs for their craft or design or artwork, not junk about their house. I apologize to anyone that might feel like that, feel free to skip past this post and please return later to our (semi) regularly programmed material.

We bought our home in August 2011. I can’t believe it has been that long. We have been living here for over a year and a half and until recently have done very little to it, other then fresh coats of paint to a few of the rooms. It takes me a long time to feel settled into a new place. I actually felt at home right away, but I’m realizing there is a difference between feeling at home and getting to the point where I feel like I can make adjustments to suit my own needs rather than just live with what I have. That being said, I’m still not even to the point where I feel like I can confidently drill holes in my own walls and hang things. 3M pull tabs, you’ve been a life saver!

In the last month or two we have made a few minor changes that have succeeded in making the house feel more and more like OURS. The before pictures are ones we took at the inspection or closing. I wish I had thought to take pictures right before we made these changes, so I didn’t have to use the closing pictures (all empty and well lit), but naturally, it wasn’t until each of the lights were down that I thought about it. Also, big props go out to Matt’s parents who helped us with each of these changes.

3.20.13 old dining room

The house originally had those brass and glass light fixtures, as seen above. I knew I wanted to put in lights of my own before we even settled on a house. I really had my heart set on the Ikea Maskros. It wasn’t until we bought the house and took a trip into Ikea that I saw them ALL.OVER.THE.STORE and immediately I got cold feet. I’m sure they knew they were a hot item and felt like they were trying to shove them down my throat. I didn’t want an item that would look super dated in 5 years and I started thinking that in 5 years that light would feel more like “oh yeah, I remember when those were super popular and everyone had one”. I still really love it, and props to those who have it, but I know myself and I wanted something I’d be keeping up for a longer time period.

So, this is finally happening.

I wasn’t sure what kind of light I wanted. I shopped online, in local hardware stores, and we checked out the habitat for humanity store, where we found a sea of our same style lights. Seems like everyone else wanted them out of their houses as well. One of the things I’ve tried to keep in mind for our house is “when in doubt go simple”. I have a tendency to get cluttered. I love collecting things and have tons of display type stuff. So when putting things in the house I’d rather go simple on the larger things while the other display items become the accents. This way everything isn’t overwhelming, cluttered, or competing for attention.

3.20.13 new dining room

I was tired of waiting for the just the right light to be placed in my arms. I hunted online and finally found the Crate and Barrel Large Finley pendant light in white. 1. Our walls are all painted bright white, despite what the pictures may look like. I liked that the Finley is also white, plain, and simple, and has a bottom, so that when you are sitting below it you can’t see up inside of it. 2. Picture disclaimer: Yeah, I know I said I’d like everything I put in the house to look SIMPLE, but this really only applies to things we buy new. Our house is currently such a mishmash of items. Pretty much everything is thrifted, handed down or picked up for free. Beggars can’t be choosers. The only things in this picture that don’t fit into that category are the two lights (the floor lamp, and the new pendant light) and the TV stand. The coffee table (which you can barely see), the couch, the other couch out of view, lazyboy, chairs, dining room table, and even the TV all fit into the first category of previously used items.

3.20.13 old foyer

One of the things I first loved about our house was that it had a foyer. My original idea for the space was that I wanted a bench, baskets for mail, mittens, etc., and a large mirror to check myself before heading out the door. We hunted and hunted for a bench before I just gave up and found a narrow table that worked just right. Sure enough, since then I’ve been seeing tons of foyer benches. We still have not hung a mirror (see above for fear of hanging things on the walls). Then, within the last couple of weeks we took down this brass and glass (complete with fake candlestick) light in the space and replaced it with the Ikea Knappa. Because it was hard to see how the displays were wired in the store and the packaging didn’t explain, we were a bit surprised to find that the light is actually just a plug light with hooks to hang it by. We ended up having to cut off the plug and strip the wires to have it hang like a true chandelier light.

3.20.13 new foyer
I don’t think I previously really paid attention the light in this space. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t an eye sore either, maybe because it was high enough, out of sight out of mind. It wasn’t something that I was dying to change. What did that for me was one evening while walking down my street I happened to notice that I could see through my neighbor’s window transom, over their front door, and see their foyer light. I don’t even remember if it was anything special, but just that I realized If I could see theirs, then people could see ours that same way. We don’t really have front windows, but we do have this transom window. I thought it would be really cool if there was something interesting to see there. When hanging we took care to make sure that it was visible through that transom from outside. I am thrilled with the way it looks from the street and sidewalk. From the inside, the space doesn’t have too much going on, so I wasn’t worried about it looking too cluttered, by choosing a busy light. Also, it is something that might get boring soon, but for only $25 we can easily replace it with something different in a couple of years. Something also new, fun and interesting to look at.

3.20.13 old laundry

Definitely the most functional update are these shelves above the washer and dryer. There were some rickety shelves there when we bought the house but they were taken down when we were painting. For a Christmas present, Matt said he would get shelves and install them. Up until then I was frustrated, living with a laundry basket filled with soap, bleach, dryer balls, stain remover, tid bits from our pockets, what-have-you, and just moving that basket from top of the washer to top of the dryer to the floor and back again.

3.20.13 old laundry new

Now I have the shelves and I’m relieved that things in this space can finally be “put away”. Also, we don’t have a linen closet per se, so I am excited that I can get some baskets to go up on the top shelf and put things away in there.

My new air plant.

These are the major changes. We’ve done a few small things here and there that aren’t too much worth sharing. You don’t want to see replaced toilet seats, do you? hehe. One last thing though, something I wanted to do way before we bought the house and that was to get an air plant to hang in the kitchen. I bought the vase at Micheal’s for a couple dollars, and the air plant from Acorn Design Source at the Kane County Flea Market. I’d really like to add more greenery to the house, but I have to be creative with two cats that will destroy any living plants within reach.

Okay, that’s that. Since we are slow movers when it comes to home improvements this will probably be the last home post until next year.

A Necklace Display

9.17 necklace display

While living in rental units and before buying our home I had a dream list of things I wanted to do once I OWNED MY OWN HOME. There were things on that list like hanging a nice, full length mirror on the wall (as opposed to the cheap mirror that is stuck to the back of most apartment bathroom doors), having my very own hammock to swing in while enjoying my very own back yard and HELLO chalkboard paint wall. One of those list items was to have a nice and permanent display for all of my necklaces.

my favorite necklaces
(some of my favorite necklaces)

I consider most of my jewelry as wearable art, rather than just jewelry, and most pieces are not small or something that could easily be put away in a jewelry box. I’d like to have the pieces out and hanging in my bedroom. This way the pieces could be displayed as the artwork that they are, but also easily seen so I can decide which piece to wear each day.

In the past I’ve just hung all my necklaces from various random hooks, knobs and random nails that seem to be abundant in most rentals. I dreamed of a time when I’d have them all hanging on the wall, equally displayed. At first I pictured a straight line of nails, right into the wall. I think after renting for so many years I couldn’t even dream past the point of just owning my own walls that I could NAIL HOLES INTO IF I WANTED. It wasn’t until moving into our house that I started thinking beyond that and came up with this idea for a necklace display.

9.17 necklace display materials

Last weekend I finally finished it and thought it might be something other people would be interested in recreating for their own necklaces. It was really simple and other than some assistance from my dad and sister (mostly because I needed their expertise, support and assurance) it could have been done in a day or two.

9.17 necklace display materials2

I went to the hardware/lumber store and bought a 2x10x8 and had them cut it down to 4 feet long and bought an a additional length of quarter-round, as seen above.

9.17 necklace display materials7

Lightly sand the wood, stain it and then treat it.

9.17 necklace display materials4

Using wood glue, glue the quarter round onto the edge and tape it into place and leave it to dry.

Mark the walls where the studs are and measure the height where the piece is to hang.
9.17 necklace display materials8

Put screws into the studs at the correct height, leaving them to stick out about .5″-.75″.

9.17 necklace display materials6

Place the piece up against the wall, directly under the screws and mark on the wood where the screws are located.
9.17 necklace display materials5

Drill holes into the back, slightly larger than the screw heads in the wall, that match the location of the screws in the wall.
9.17 necklace display materials3

Run two pieces of tape across the piece, horizontally, at 1″ and 4″ down. Then mark the tape every .75″, alternating on the 1 and 4 inch tapes.
With a hammer, nail penny nails into the board at the marked spots at a slight angle upward.

Voila, the piece is done. Match the holes in the back of the piece to the screws in the wall and it hangs beautifully.

9.17 room1 9.17 room
(Before and after, necklace display)

The purpose of the quarter round was to create a small ledge where I can place artwork and inspirational images.

I also chose to use penny nails. You might opt for hooks or decorative nails. I specifically wanted the penny nails because the necklaces can easily be pulled off, and they are less distracting from the necklaces.

If you click on any of the images in this post it should take you to the flickr image. If you go to to this picture of the close up, and hover over the picture I have given credit to all the different artists who’s work can be seen in this display.

It was the best day, no really THE BEST DAY!

It’s hard to sit down and write this now that I’ve relayed the message countless times to friends and family, coworkers, to all the strangers new friends who have supported us in the last 7 weeks, and to my dear folks on facebook, twitter and instagram. By my estimation I must have shared this story dozens of times now.

Bishop came home on Sunday July 8th. Sunday was one day shy of 7 weeks since he had slipped out of a broken screen window and went missing.

Matt just changed the o to an a for
Weeks back I wrote a message on our chalkboard that said “Bishop come home”. The day we brought him back, Matt drew attention while he changed the o in come to an a.

Last Thursday Matt received a phone call where a gentleman said he thinks our cat has been around their house for the last two weeks. I had the day off, so in 100 degree heat, I climbed on my bike and rode around the streets and alleyways of the neighborhood, calling his name. Later we went driving in the evening (when cats are more active), calling his name, flashing our ultra bright new flashlight that reflects cat eyes. We didn’t hear or see him then either. This was no surprise. We have a long laundry list of places with possible Bishop sightings. When Matt spoke to the gentleman, he asked him to please call back, any time or day, if he were to see him again.

THIS IS HAPPENING! WE HAVE BISHOP, SAFE AND PURRING LIKE CRAZY!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy. I can't stop crying!
On Sunday morning around 9 a.m. Matt got another call, this time from the same gentleman’s wife. Her husband saw the cat again, it’s under their neighbor’s trailer. We flew out the door, and on the trip over (8 blocks over and 8 blocks up) we realized we hadn’t brought our blanket or gloves. We had become prepared for the worst, and it was very possible that after 7 weeks out Bishop could have become a bit feral, stressed and more agitated than normal. Matt told me that the wife said “don’t worry about the reward” and he joked that if it really was Bishop he’d gladly just them his entire wallet.

We get to the house and the couple comes out and explains that, naturally, the cat is no longer under the trailer but he might be in their neighbors back yard. While Matt hunts, I speak with the couple. They explain how this cat has been around their house for 2 weeks. The wife had noticed him on her front porch, saw his blue eyes, and had put out food, water and a blanket for him to sleep on.

To back up the story a little bit, we put up flyers (then were told by police repeatedly to remove our flyers :O), added his name to missing pet lists at all the local animal shelters, veterinarian offices, animal control, police station, stores and what have you. We handed out fliers to anyone who would take one. We posted to craigslist and placed an ad in the paper (we are grateful that the local newspapers allow for free lost pet ads) and then updated and reran it weekly. I would say we received calls or emails at least once a day. The outpouring of help, and support was amazing. People wanted to offer tips and encouragement, even if they hadn’t seen our cat. The people who called wanted to help so badly that they were 100% positive that they saw OUR cat in THEIR yard, or neighborhood. Of course 50% of the time they called the day after the sighting so there was no cat to identify, and the other 50% we were able to see the cat but it wouldn’t be Bishop.

Back to Sunday morning. I explained to the woman that we try not to get our hopes up too high, that so many people are certain that they have our cat, but so far it always turns out not to be Bishop. She explained that they were cat people, and that she knows cats and they saw the ad in the paper and this cat has blue eyes and the ad said he blue eyes and that it is so rare. She was sure that this cat was our cat. This is when the waterworks began. It’s not the first time that someone’s promise to return our cat had me chocked up either, but she was so sweet and reassuring that I really thought this might be it.

The couple decided to go around to the other side of the yard and I heard Matt call Bishop’s name for the first time. I thought to myself “Bishop will never hear that, you have to call loud” so I yelled his name a couple times and next thing I know the couple comes running around “the cat just ran under the trailer again” toward us. Sure enough we could see a cat under the trailer but it was dark under there. Matt was on one side and I was on the other. With the cats back to me I called his name and the cat turned its head in my direction and meowed. It looked like him, but at the same time I’ve been tricked before and it has never actually been Bishop. I looked over to Matt and said “what do you think?” and he said “I think it really might be him.” I’m getting choked up typing this. I immediately started bawling, right there next to the trailer. I think I looked under one more time, called his name and he meowed my way again and I confirmed that it really did look like him. At this point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I kind of scooted away from the trailer and just sobbed. I’m sure the couple thought I was mess, crying so much. I was also starting to get frantic. We’ve come this far, I don’t want to lose him again. I pointed out to Matt that it was funny that he was under this vehicle because there have been a few times we had him with us in the yard and when it was time to go back in he would run and hide under the car where we couldn’t grab him. It was like old times. I just wanted him out from under there. He was closest to where Matt was positioned and Matt was very calm and composed. Me on the other hand, I grabbed a stick that was lying next to me and wanted poke him out from under there. Everyone laughs when I tell that part of the story, but that was how desperate I was. I didn’t actually poke at him, but I did want to, lol. Fortunately the stick was too short so I couldn’t even try. Anyway, the gentleman ran into the house and got a can of cat food and Bishop came right out for the food. Easy as pie Matt was able to pick him up and transfer him to our car. The couple told us again not to worry about the reward we mentioned in the our ad. I hugged the wife and Matt came back and hugged her as well. We promised to return with the reward. I think I’m going to put together a little personalized gift basket to thank them.

We got in the car and immediately started heading to the animal hospital. He was just purring and so happy that we found him. I was calling everyone (family and friends) to let them know we had Bishop and he was safe in our car, all the while crying like a baby. Halfway to the  hospital I realized that they might not be open because it was Sunday. Sure enough, our regular vet as well as all the others in the area were closed. We changed route and just came home. He has a medium length hair and looking at him he looks absolutely normal. Touching him was another thing. He was rail thin, I could feel every bone in his spine. Petting his head was not much better, I could feel the ridges in his skull, he was that thin. He has what we assume are scars from cat fights on his noes and ears, but other than that his fur was a little dirty but not as bad as what we imagined.

We brought him in and immediately he started doing rounds of the house to see if everything is in it’s place. Plenty of time had passed but he had not forgotten the house or us. He purred and purred like crazy and has become like velcro to our side. He’s always wanted to be around us, but now he’s crying at our feet to be picked up. He can’t get enough and neither can we of him.

The first day of elation made room for the second day of fears. Is he okay after all this time out on his own? We called the vet and were able to bring him in. We were worried about him being examined in his weekend state. It really would have been best if we could have taken him straight to the vet because he was just so disoriented and happy to see us, he probably would have let the vet examine him perfectly fine. Matt’s mom who had never been able to pet him before was able to pet him that first day. But by the second day some of his spunk had returned and the cat that growls, hisses and tears the flesh of the vet had come back out in him. The last few times we’ve taken him to the vet they’ve had to gas sedate him. We were worried that sedating him could  be dangerous. Turns out there was an emergency surgery that needed to happen as soon as we got there and so when our vet met with us very briefly, and he really was no help at all. We knew the options and instead of giving us his opinion of what he thought would be best he just put it back to us. No tests for heartworm, tapeworm, any of the worms ;), feline leukemia, feline aids, dehydration, organ failure, nothing. We did get a one month treatment for fleas but only because I brought it up. The vet was obviously very distracted and didn’t even offer or attempt to examine him. It was either he is gassed before examined later or he goes home, it’s up to you.  Matt really was afraid of putting him under and so we left the vet with no resolutions, and were told just to bring him back if he doesn’t seem to be doing well. I think we need a new vet. Bringing him home we think he was probably mostly just super dehydrated because by the second day his spine was already considerably less defined and today he seems more like a slim cat than an emaciated one. We’ve been feeding him small amounts frequently and he has been eating and going to the bathroom. Once he is doing much better we will take him in for a full examination with bloodwork, etc.

Most of our signs had been taken down by weather, or the police (see above) but there were a few locations that had them up still like our mailbox post. Many neighbors had offered support so I wanted to let them know that Bishop is home and I created a new flyer and posted it over the old one along with some balloons.

This has gotten wordy. I’m sure everyone has stopped reading by this point, but I still feel like I have so much more to say. I would love to tell you about how much I had under estimated Bishop. I can’t even begin to thank everyone who kept providing me with encouragement and support. Friends that sent me personal messages and shared their personal stories or tips on how to find a lost pet, people who reposted his missing flyer, folks who looked for him, others who called or emailed with possible sightings. If it weren’t for all of these people I would have given up looking for him. I think I mentioned in a previous post but I used to say if Bishop ever got out, he wouldn’t last a day on his own. Well, it was 7 weeks alone, on his own and he proved me wrong.

He is home, and life is good.

One funny last thing, my dad posted on Matt’s facebook that if he calculates it correctly, Bishop is now on life 6, and we all agree that sounds about right. Two emergency surgeries for digesting styrofoam and then foam packaging, and now this.

Our Annual Christmas Ornament

Yesterday Matt and I made our annual Christmas ornament. I like the idea of using recycled or repurposed papers to make such a beautiful thing. So far we’ve recycled paper 3 years, and purchased origami paper one year. This year I was fortunate enough to pick up some waste paper from a song book we were printing at work and it made for a beautiful ornament. This is the tutorial pattern I follow every year. This was also the first year we used hot glue and it is by far the sturdiest ornament yet. I highly recommend using hot glue. If you don’t have a glue gun you can find them at your typical marts and craft stores for under $10. Also, don’t make the same mistake we made, use small paper! Our first ornament ended up being the size of a soccer ball and will never make it to the tree. Now we use 3″ square and it works perfectly.

12.19 2011 ornament

I like this picture above with all the ornaments we’ve made so far. It’s our first year in our first home and this picture captures so much. It’s like an eye spy. There are four ornaments on our dining room table but can you see the a handmade table cloth that Matt’s great grandmother made? How about a nosey kitty, and a christmas tree, and don’t forget a tired Matt lounging on the couch?

12.20 christmas tree
And since we are on holiday decorations, here is a picture of our first full sized tree. Previously we had a little 3 foot tree that was more of a pain than anything. The cat was constantly trying to eat it and it was always falling over. This new tree was gifted to us by Matt’s parents. Please disregard the lack of a tree skirt. I’m working on it. The tree is covered in white lights (my preference), my handmade gold and silver garland, and a collection of both of our ornaments from since we were babies.

All moved in

Pictures are brought to you via Instagram, since that is the camera I have most available while moving. If you are on instagram, let’s be friends, I’m robayre, naturally :)

Here’s Matt and Bishop the night we moved in.

This past weekend was crazy. Thursday and Friday Matt and I were packing fools. Saturday,  we were moving fools, and all of Sunday we were cleaning fools. When we finally finished wrapping up the duplex last night and I had a moment to sit down my whole body wanted to fall apart. Every inch of me, even my fingernails were in pain. They still are. But we are finally done, and in the new house. None of this would have been possible without the help of family (my sister, my parents and Matt’s parents) as well as friends (Henry, JT, Tom and Charles).

The whole house buying experience has been one thing that worried me, after another. I’m worried something will happen that will keep us from buying the house, I’m worried about the loan, I’m worried about going to the closing, I’m worried about painting, I’m worried about packing, I’m worried about the truck rental, I’m worried about moving, I’m worried about leaving the rental.  BUT, I think I’m finally through it all. Now I am at the stage where I can just settle in, soak it up and be a merry home owner.

We’re far from being unpacked. This is my new studio. There’s a looney tunes wallpaper border that has to go. But as you can see from the picture, that might not be for a while because my studio is currently in boxes filling the room. The space is slightly smaller than my previous studio, but we have a HUGE basement with several rooms for storage so I might spill into them a tiny bit.
I made a light switch time capsule

Lastly, before dropping off the keys to the old place I remembered the time capsule tutorial I found via pinterest. I left the above time capsule in our rental. I have always loved the idea of leaving time capsules and have, at the least, hidden my name and date on the inside of closets before moving. I imagine how much fun it would be to discover this, sadly, since it’s a rental, it will probably just be our old landlord and that’s not so much fun imagining.

Time to go mow… MY VERY OWN LAWN!

My Big News

The other day I mentioned that I’ve been up to something big and would be back to share. In short – We bought a house!

In depth, well, I don’t even know where to begin.

Should I start with how I never even allowed myself to hope that I could be a home owner? Even though owning my own house was a dream I’ve had since I was a child.

I could explain how I shared our house hunting with very few people because I was so afraid to jinx any of it.

And I could easily go on and on about how much I’ve hated renting from someone else, and how I could never fully feel comfortable, especially when I come home to find strangers in my house (like we did earlier this year).

Or how about once we began looking I was shocked to find out that I have great credit, even though for years I had imagined being laughed out the bank doors.

What about the countless houses we previously viewed in the year and half prior, and the 3 other houses we put offers on, got our hearts wrapped up in, only to lose for various reasons.

I think I’ll start with a simple explanation that on Friday, August 5th, 2011, Matt and I closed on our very first home. Driving home with keys in our hands, we were equally shocked that we made it through and that the house is ours (well, the bank’s technically until we pay it off). All the same, I don’t think it will all sink in until after we are fully moved in.

8.5.11 Moving
Okay, I’m off again. We have loads of packing and someone is doing his best to make this chore even more difficult for us.