The Concord House before
The Concord House is going on the market tomorrow! It's been a long haul, and we're so grateful for our patient agent, James. He's stuck through the whole messy process of getting the house ready to sell, including dealing with my Charles' brother, who lived there for most of the process but didn't do work unless Charles was there. That's just stuff, though, and we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Concord House after
Dealing with this whole process, including ridding the house of a lifetime's worth of accumulation, as well as grieving for lost loved ones on top of that, has taught me some things.1. Don't let your possessions possess you.2. Always have your compassion out and ready to use.3. If something is too overwhelming, take a walk and get some air. It will still be waiting for you when you return, but you'll be ready for it.4. It will take at least three times as long as you think to settle an estate.5. Be prepared to be knocked on your ass by the memories that will be triggered by the things you encounter -- no matter how unattached you think you are.It really has been a long slog, but once the house sells, our shoulders should be even lighter. Work on the house included: getting the front of the exterior painted, taking up the carpet and polishing the existing hardwood floors, replacing the carpet in the den (now called the family room), repainting each room, repainting the trim, repainting the fireplace, painting the kitchen cabinets, putting down new linoleum in the kitchen, taking down wallpaper, replacing the kitchen appliances, replacing the hardware throughout the house, gutting both bathrooms, treating and fixing termite damage, laying new lawn (which was done early on), and before anything else could happen, clearing the house. It's been emotional, a major burden, tension causing, but most of all, it's been a great learning experience, and I'm so glad we're almost at the end. I hope whomever purchases The Concord House has many happy years there and that the rooms echo with laughter.*All photos in this post are from James, our real estate agent.
After a late frost and a couple of heavy hail storms, it looked like stone fruits weren’t going to happen this year. I get as excited about peaches and apricots in summer as I used to as an eight-year-old on Christmas Eve, so I was feeling very heavy hearted when the farmers saw the blossoms on their trees falling.
What may have been considered a Christmas miracle, a bit early perhaps, happened when stone fruit actually began to appear in the local farmers markets, and when Chaffin Orchards offered a deal on a lug of peaches, I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t suppress my eagerness, actually, and purchased two lugs, basically 45 pounds of peaches!
That many beautiful, heirloom orbs of sweetness meant that I needed to do some heavy canning this weekend. I love to preserve food. There’s something almost supernatural about preparing food, putting it in jars, and making it become shelf stable with a thing as mundane as boiling water. Hearing jars seal makes me feel like I’m magic.
My favorite creation of the weekend was Peach Vanilla Bean Jam. It was an interpretation of a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and another from smells-like-home.com. I’ll include the recipe for my jam as well as including the measurements for a smaller batch.
Peach Vanilla Bean Jam
Makes 18 pints (or 4+ pints)
15 pounds peaches, blanched, skinned, and pitted (3 pounds)
1 ¼ cups lemon juice (1/4 cup)
2 packages Pomona’s Universal Pectin (1/2 package)
6 vanilla beans, cut open (1-2 beans)
20 cups evaporated cane sugar (4 cups)
Sterilize jars in boiling water, 10 minutes for sea level. Add a minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. For instance, we live at 3600 Ft., so I sterilized the jars for 14 minutes.
Place peaches in a food processor and mix until peaches are crushed or crush by hand. Put crushed peaches in a very large pot, add lemon juice and pectin, and stir well. Place on high heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a full boil. Add vanilla pods. Add sugar and heat again to a full boil, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute more, remove from heat, skim if needed, remove vanilla pods, and spoon jam into hot jars using a ladle and wide mouth funnel. Leave ¼ inch of headspace.
Screw on both pieces of the lid and process in a boiling water canner. Process for 5 minutes at sea level to 1,000 Ft., 10 minutes for 1,001 to 6,000 Ft., and 15 minutes above 6,000 Ft.
Remove jars using a pair of canning tongs. Place jars on a towel on the counter and let sit until cool. As jam cools, the sound of the lids sealing will occur, and it sounds so cool!
This jam is the dream of anyone with a sweet tooth. It would be amazing on vanilla ice cream as well as being used on English muffins, pancakes, or anywhere else you can imagine jam hanging out. It’s also pretty awesome spooned straight from the jar.Google+
I know I already posted once today, but I just received my new Bruce Campbell (contemporary) from my friend, Chris, and I LOVE it! It's so fun, and such genius, too. The black velvet makes the piece so rich looking in person, and Chris is such a talented man, that I almost feel like there's a permanent glow above my desk created by the amazingness that is the Bruce. He's hanging next to my other BC BVP (classic Evil Dead II), and the combo makes my heart happy. Thank you so, so much, Chris Henry!
Almost as long as we've owned this house, I've been talking about building a bookcase for the odd jut in my office. I've downloaded plans and had everything plotted out, but then the IKEA catalog showed up in my mailbox. While flipping through the pages, I discovered that two BILLY bookcases and a BENNO were the exact dimensions I needed for the space. The dreams of a Mellisa-made built-in became a thing of the past. Down to IKEA my Charles and I went yesterday. We picked up the pieces as well as two pairs of NINNI TRAD curtains, one pair for the bookcase edges and one for the sliding glass door. I got the idea from the latest issue of House Beautiful, and I love how the curtains soften the hard lines of the bookcases and feel feminine and flow-y -- plus they're polka dots, my kryptonite.
Total cost: BILLY, $49.99 x 2
NINNI TRAD, $19.99 x 2
tension rod, $7.99
= $187.94 + tax
Not too bad for a built-in look accomplished in an afternoon. I'm planning on buying some baskets for miscellaneous storage up on top of the bookcases and maybe trimming out the top and bottom to make it look truly built-in, and since the walls aren't perfectly square, these babies aren't going anywhere. They're wedged. I'm not totally finished styling the shelves, but I'm really pleased to have my favorite books out of boxes and back in my office where they belong.
I'm guest blogging this month as part of the National Cooperative Grocers Association Eat Local! America campaign. Have you been missing my recipes of late? Then head on over to read my first ever cabbage recipe. Skeptical of that green stuff? So was I, so give it a read before you disregard our good friend, cabbage.On a house note, I didn't forget that I was going to share my creative console that I made out of a table my grandpa made (one the left) and my sewing table (on long term loan from my mom). Now I have a landing spot for my purse and the mail. I really like the way it looks
. It might not work for everyone, but it pleases my Charles and me. Not only do you get a view of mail and my purse in this shot, you also get a great shot of our water glasses! We make it a mission to stay hydrated. Oh, and the lamp you can catch a bit of in the right hand edge was another inheritance piece. It's art deco, and I love it.