Thursday, July 4, 2013

Miss Chef’s Big Projects

This is going to be waaaay more interesting than you think…I’ve got a little surprise for you!

After my thousand-plus mile driving vacation, I needed a few days to recover.  By Saturday, though, we were back on schedule, up early to get to the farmers’ market.  The first field tomatoes were coming in, and Miss Chef decided on the spur of the moment that she wanted to buy enough to put up a few quarts.

We went to the bigger, NC Regional market and scoured all the vendors’ tables to find the ripest selection.  When we finally found a pile of small red ones, Miss Chef said, “Can I have all your tomatoes?”  It shocked the farmer right into selling them to us for a dollar a pound!

As she was setting herself up in the kitchen, I realized that I still had half my annual batch of strawberry jam unfinished.  I had run out of time last month when I started canning, so I had mashed the berries and frozen them.  Now would be the perfect time to finish cooking up and processing that jam.

So an aimless Saturday ended up with this collection all sealed and ready for storage:

canning 06 (2)

This includes the first half of my jam, so it wasn’t all done on the same day.  But it sure looks impressive.  I also noted that everything we can is red, when I realized that my one scruffy red t-shirt has become my “canning shirt.”

This is the kind of thing that happens when Miss Chef has vacation time.  She either gets elbow deep into projects, or she sits on the couch and reads for days on end.  Her next big project will be replacing the flooring in the entryway, which was warped beyond saving by Rosie’s incontinence issues.  (Those are now under control, provided Mommy 1 doesn’t forget to give her her “pee pills” twice a day.)  So Sunday found us perusing flooring, underlayment and strike bars at Home Depot.

That project hasn’t started yet though, since it will take ‘til the end of the week for the flooring to come in.  But Miss Chef found something else to keep her busy in the meantime.  Similarly to when she knocked together my pea trellis from bits of wood and wire found in our shed, she found all kinds of useful materials out there and made this impressive piece:

cat house

No, she’s not planning on giving groovy speeches from her carpeted podium.  She was getting ready for what we’d signed up for after we left Home Depot that Sunday afternoon.

Meet McKenna, our new roommate.

McKenna 07 (1)


She’s not as big as she looks in that photo.  She’s three months old today.  We adopted her from Saving Southern Kitties, the organization working through our local PetSmart store.  Her mother was rescued from a high-kill shelter while she was pregnant, so McKenna was born in foster care.  They did a great job raising her, as she is very loving and used to being handled.

This photo gives you a better idea of her coloration.  Her mother was a very light orange tabby, so I’m guessing Daddy was a tuxedo cat.  Two of her siblings were light like her momma, but one sister looks very similar to McKenna.

McKenna 07 (7)

Now, this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.  Miss Chef has been wanting a kitten for a long time, and it was only my firmness that let Smoky go two years ago.  We talked about it again last winter, and Miss Chef decided that after she finished her MBA would be good timing to adopt.  For Christmas I gave her a big, fancy-pants litter box that should be a cinch to keep clean.  That was my giving her permission to get a kitten, as litter box upkeep has been my biggest concern.  (Even Miss Chef will admit she isn’t always the best about everyday maintenance-type chores.)

Miss Chef finished her MBA in May, but with all the traveling we had planned, it wasn’t until the end of June that we could get serious about bringing a new pet into the house. When we stopped by PetSmart on Sunday, I assumed we’d see if there was one there we wanted to consider.  I didn’t know the organization has people on-site nearly every day, or that Miss Chef would quietly fall in love while I chatted with the volunteers and she played with the kitty.

McKenna 07 (3)


We had to fill out an application, and the organization checked our vet reference before calling us on Tuesday to give us the ok.  We went to load up on supplies that evening before putting McKenna in her spanking-new crate and driving her home.

And now, what about Rosie?

Rosie 07

She is being a champ.  When she stuck her nose up to the crate, McKenna hissed and spat.  We let them see each other for a few minutes with McKenna in a crate up on a table and Rosie halfway across the room, then we separated them for a day.  McKenna had the bedroom during the day, and Rosie got it at night.  Wednesday evening we brought McKenna into the living room while Rosie was sitting quietly.  McKenna did the whole Halloween kitty thing, but Rosie mostly ignored her.  Smoky trained her well!

And this is where I am amazed by this dog.  Wednesday night, while McKenna was still pretty jumpy, Rosie wouldn’t meet her gaze.  With the dog looking away, McKenna would dare to approach within a foot or so, but if Rosie happened to glance at her—Halloween kitty.  So Rosie pointedly kept her gaze in another direction and let McKenna explore the room while we sat and pet the dog.

Today McKenna is becoming much more comfortable, very quickly.  This morning I brought her out to the living room and put her on the back of the easy chair.  When I went over to pet Rosie, the dog lay down for a belly rub, and McKenna promptly jumped down from the chair, as that submissive posture obviously meant this dog was not a killer.

McKenna 07 (4)

Hmm, maybe this pooch isn’t so bad…


So now they both have full range of the entire house while we’re home (hooray for the well-timed holiday!).  McKenna still occasionally puts on her Halloween pose, but she is now slightly more intrigued by Rosie than threatened by her.  And today Rosie isn’t hesitating to look right at her.  She’s so incredibly intuitive about what’s needed to let this cat adjust to her, it’s just flabbergasting.

And McKenna is turning out to be quite a little charmer.  Thanks to great fostering, she’s friendly, affectionate and bold.  She loves to play, of course, and she already has a big, ready purr.

(Pardon the poor lighting, but turn up your volume just a little, and you’ll hear how friendly she really is.)


So for the foreseeable future, there will be nary a dull moment in Flartopia.


  1. I could do with ALL of that jam for my open day
    Thanks to the sheep I have f@ck all raspberries

    1. You must be really ticked about those raspberries, to ignore that cute kitty face! If it makes it any better, I had to buy all those strawberries.

  2. What a charmer your kitten is! And, I really like his colors...You'll surely fall in love with him too.

    And, some jam would have been nice with my toast this morning...

    Have a nice week-end!

    1. She's been an easy cat so far. And the jam seems to get better every year!

  3. Cute! Congrats on the new addition to your family! Oh and carpeted podium is what I immediately "saw".

    1. Yes, but did it say "groovy" to you?

    2. Hahaha - it said "groovy" to me ... we had a carpeted bar in the '80's!

  4. Oh yay!!!! This is fabulous news! McKenna is a big purring ball of charm, that's for sure, and Rosie is showing she's got A+ big sister credentials. I'm looking forward to lots of future posts about the new addition to your family!

    (And congratulations to Miss Chef on finishing her MBA, and congratulations to both of you on your canning prowess!)

    1. Yes, as we were on our way out of the store after filling out the adoption application, I said to Miss Chef, "And I was worried about what I was going to post about on my blog after those vacation photos." It has been an exciting few weeks around here, that's for sure.

  5. Aww, that WAS a surprise - but a very good one! (cat person here)

    Gorgeous canning from both of you.

    I'm so glad Rosie is not minding the kitten. What a smart girl to help McKenna adjust like that.

    1. I don't think anyone who regularly reads this blog isn't an animal lover. :)


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