Thursday, September 8, 2011

I've been Jamming

So I've been a blog slacker. It's been nearly a month since I posted.  But I have a good excuse.

First,  I went back to work with bang with an annual all day client event in August, which thanks to my friend, Mary Beth Brinkerhoff, of For Goodness Taste, who was the best sous chef ever, everything went great and the client and guests were all very happy. 

The event, between the planning, shopping, execution, and clean-up consumed the better part of ten days.  I didn't check my garden for a few days, so imagine my surprise when I went out and discovered this:

Baby Chuck
Chuck Jr., went into the live trap, which wasn't baited at the time, so I hadn't checked it. Originally I put in an ear of corn, which the chipmunks promptly feasted on without tripping the trap.  He looked hungry (well, and a little pissed off), so I gave him some shredded squash.  Then I took him to live on a nice farm.  Unfortunately as far as the garden goes, the damage is done. 

Moving to the indoor critters, apparently stocking up on cat food on sale turned out to be a bad idea.  It must have been a bad batch, because the entire crew turned up their noses at most of it, including the resident pig, Bubba, and what little they did eat appeared on the living room carpet. It was like having an undiapered baby running loose for a few days.  Not pretty. 

So a Saturday morning discussion with my handyman, as we were compiling the most recent list of things we needed from Lowes to keep this place from falling apart, turned to the living room floor.  As in "Hey, let's measure the room and take a look at the hard flooring options and price it out".  Which turned in to this:

New cherry laminate flooring going down
This cherry laminate, which was perfect, was on clearance for about $1 a square foot.  And they just happened to have enough boxes, plus a few spares, so rather than debate it and lose it, I bought it on the spot.  Monday, the carpet and seven billion staples on the floor came out, and by Tuesday, the new floor was going down. 

Of course you can't have new floors without painting the walls.  I spent a long winter curled up in the recliner riding out the post chemo weeks.  Especially towards the end, I really wished that the walls were a little sunnier, so I finally made that happen.  The living room is now "Arizona" (Behr), with the far end is a few shades darker, "Crispy Gingersnap", the same as in the kitchen.  The mantel got a nice coat of "New Leaf".

Welcome to Arizona

New Leaf
Is it finished? Uh, no.  But it's getting there.  New drapes, furniture slipcovers and pillows purchased, trim and a little more painting, and it's a new room.  Even partially done, it makes me happy.

Since I hadn't actually planned to tear out an entire 400 square foot room and redo it, just to make things more fun, in between coats of paint and trips to Lowes and Home Depot (speaking of which - hey Home Depot, I'll gladly ring and bag my own purchases, just let me know when my health insurance benefits kick in), I had a kitchen full of ripening fruit that was destined for jam.  Peaches, nectarines, and figs.  Lots of figs.

This Fig Jam with Fennel Pollen is my favorite of the fig recipes I made.  And this Tomato Jam with Bourbon was the most surprisingly delicious - I made three batches, and gave away a lot of them already. Highly recommended.  The Peppered Peach with Rosemary is pretty awesome too.

Figs from West Side Market
My Jam Session
Pretty Pickles
 So that's my excuse.  I've been jamming.