Running Away From Home

Rockies

Between the last post and this one I ran away from home.

Bear in mind, I’m not an advocate of running away from home (nor life) and there was much more involved in this impromptu foray than tying a makeshift hobo bag on the end of a stick, slinging it over my shoulder, and taking off for the wild blue yonder.

Let’s just say it was a realignment of my life…

A much needed one.

On the heels of the ‘mysterious cookbook project’ I’ve been editing since last Spring (more on that in a post or two!) and despite the contented musings in my last post, the same ol’ same ol’ was becoming all too familiar.

Don’t get me wrong! I love editing and I’m at peace with my Sis’s sudden passing. And, life on the lake with TMOFW is still wonderful… but… I was beginning to feel “at my wit’s end.” It was time to do something off the wall.

Different. Spontaneous. Grown-up girl.

And just plain fun!

After submitting my last-minute RSVP to Google+’s VIPCON2014/Denver HIRL (Video In Person Conference/Hangout In Real Life), I packed up the Jeep and hit the road. (Truthfully, it was the first vacation I’ve taken in 15 years.)

For three glorious days and nights, I hung out with online buddies I’d only hoped to meet ‘someday,’ visited with folks I’d never ‘met in person’ until then, and parted as lifelong friends with all of them. We laughed uproariously, played games, cooked, danced, sang songs, sampled cocktails and wine, cooked some more, and talked into the wee hours of the morning. (Basically it was an ongoing slumber party!)

Wood fire pizza oven at All American Johnny's Pizza Grill

My first night in Denver began with dinner at a wood fire pizza grill — All American Johnny’s. (Why I didn’t take a photo of my ‘customized’ pizza made with the tastiest gluten-free crust I’ve eaten to date, topped with house-made San Marzano tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, wild mushrooms, freshly-made Mozzarella, and spicy Italian sausage is beyond me.) Yup. I ate the evidence.

Also included in the event were a tour of the Breckenridge Brewery which I missed out on due to an unexpected travel delay, but they saved a T-shirt for me — (thanks!) — plus a tour of the Spring 44 distillery in Loveland. Good spirits abounded!

Did I mention cooking?

Chef Larry Fournillier whipped up his amazing Shrimp Stir Fry with Fried Rice one evening (swoon), Shelley Pierce made her fabulous bhindi Masala (again no photo, but soooo appreciatively savored), and Wayne & Dawn Nix shared their Louisiana-famous Gumbo, much to my taste-tester’s delight! (FYI, click on the blue links for visuals. ;)

There was also a ‘live’ HOA (Hangout On Air) featuring the lovely Azlin Bloor, who made Smoked Salmon Fish Curry. Oh my… it’s on my must make list! (And please pardon my ‘deer in the headlights’ gaze… there’s a first time for everything. LOL!)

I was so inspired I decided to stretch my culinary wings. Pictured below are some of the dishes I threw together (made possible with much appreciated assistance from ‘sous chefs’ extraordinaire, Larry and Debi) ~~ Pepper Steak & Eggs, Oven Baked Cinnamon Swirl French Toast, and a Lingonberry Reduction made with Spring 44’s Honey Vodka. Mmmmm…

After the VIPCON 2014/Denver HIRL (thanks for your generous-hearted hospitality, Hermine!) I stayed an extra couple of days with Debi Davis — couldn’t bear to leave — and Debi was gracious enough to open her home (and fridge) — to me.

More cooking & revelry ensued!

Here’s one last peek at “running away from home.” Such fun! (Thank you for letting us crash your kitchen two nights in a row, Mia Voss — hugs to Greg, too.) And, thanks, Halter Ranch vineyard and Tangent Wines. Exceptional sipping!

On the way home I still felt like I needed a lil’ more time to myself (even though I know all good things must come to an end) so I stopped in Trinidad, Colorado before making the final trek. Here’s the view from my hotel room…

Room with a View

And this was dinner ala room service. Ahhhhh….

Salmon Salad

When all was said and done (including driving 12 hours the next day to get back for choir rehearsal that night), I felt uplifted and entirely prepared to dive into life… and ready to be me again.

(Not that I wasn’t before — just a ‘subdued’ version of me.)

Plus, I was met with these upon my arrival…

Roses from Russ 1

When you celebrate life — when you celebrate YOU (!) — folks just naturally celebrate with you.

(You don’t even need to run away from home.)

Celebrate you today. xo

Enjoying real life revelations,

~ Kim

A Fresh Start

Fresh Start

The amazing thing about life is that every day is an opportunity to start fresh.

Even though the past tags along as part and parcel of who I am, I’m not bound to live like I did yesterday, nor am I one to dwell on it.

Certainly a little evaluation or introspection is involved before leaping into today — what worked vs. what didn’t — but that thought process lasts about as long as my first cup of coffee. Life goes on and I want to be part of it asap.

Gratitude also aids and abets forward motion. It’s impossible to be grumpy and grateful simultaneously. Choose grateful.

On August 17th my Sweet Sis, Laurie, died unexpectedly after an aneurysm on her heart burst. It was an undetectable anomaly, a quirk, a fluke — and evidence that ‘you never know when.’ (She was riding her Harley at the time.) Such was my Sis.

During the past two weeks I witnessed what a huge impact one life can have on others. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members, classmates, fellow-bikers, and more came forward to express their grief and joy, and I marveled at how ‘famous’ my sister’s smiles and hugs had become.

In a way, it didn’t surprise me. When you make up your mind to be a blessing, the ripple effect spreads far and wide. Each and every one of us has the potential to create a ripple and none of our actions are insignificant. What we “do” today influences life… and lives.

For me, that means a renewed sense of purpose. Vigorous and vibrant living. Making the most of moments. Helping somebody else. A fresh start every morning.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have experienced the wonder of my one & only Sis — and you. She would have loved you all.

Enjoying fresh starts,
~Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Still Waters Run Deep

Still Waters

Sometimes this space doesn’t accurately reflect the amount (or variety) of “writing, music, and photography” I actually do. (Or my love for long sentences…) My clipboard, college-ruled notebook paper, and favorite pen are constant companions — not to mention my camera — along with a stash of notebooks dedicated to ideas, to-do lists, poetry, musings, letter-writing, scribbling, and attempts at journaling. (My piano is also mere steps away.) Not so coincidentally, the aforementioned notebooks are color-coordinated and/or have hand-picked covers to match my wordy moods… writers are entitled to their quirks.

Currently I’m editing an amazing cookbook (more on that in a future post); last week I jammed with my fiddle-playin’ buddy, Joe, twice (we’re also playing for a cancer fund-raiser this weekend); and I was recently humbled and honored to have one of my photos published in an esteemed international literary journal. There’s often more going on in my life than meets the eye — or blog — and I apologize for my frequent lapses.

One of my ongoing writing projects — my “Dear Friends” letters — began over a decade ago. I was employed as a church secretary and each week I’d mail copies of Sunday’s sermon to ten or twelve elderly ‘shut-ins’ or folks who couldn’t attend church. (I’d also include a handwritten note of encouragement, but a sentence or two quickly became a paragraph or two, and finally a page — or two.)

When my tenure was done, I couldn’t help but keep writing to my Dear Friends (some of them tell me it’s the only letter they receive) and through the years my ‘list’ has grown from the original dozen to over 50 folks around the U.S. — often at the request of loved ones: “Mother so enjoys your letters… would you please keep sending them… and could you send one to my Aunt?”

What began as a simple act of kindness through ‘writing’ evolved into a passion for keeping the art of correspondence alive and well.

I used to write my Dear Friends letters by hand (back when I only wrote 10 or 12), but due to the increased volume I finally had to resort to a computerized version — which turned out to be easier for everybody over age 70 to read — my penmanship is nearly microscopic. Did you know it’s easier for the aging eye to discern Sans Serif fonts than Times New Roman? (I do my research.) That aside, I still insist on addressing every envelope by hand and signing each letter personally… and, I often include a handwritten note of encouragement.

Frequency-wise, my letter writing has slowed down a lil’ since moving to the lake, not counting the ones I regularly pen to my family (gotta have ‘deck time,’ not that I need an excuse!) — it’s just that I don’t have as much to write about as I did during the “trucking years.” What used to be an every-other-week travelogue gradually reduced itself to a life-on-the-lake update once a month — then every other month — and now four or five times a year.

Rather than regale you with further ‘hows’ and whys, here’s a (slightly revised) version of the latest edition:

Canoe 2

“God blesses us with His presence in so many ways, from the tiniest miraculous garden sprout to a sky-full of majestic panorama…”

In between, it’s the ordinary moments that bless us: simple things like food on the table, a roof over our heads, a better-than-usual cup of coffee, and the comforts of home. Day to day ‘ordinary’ gives us a deeper appreciation for the extraordinary.

This past Fourth of July, Russ and I opted to stay ‘home for the holidays.’ (Our usual modus operandi involves packing up the Jeep with a week’s worth of clothing and food, driving 24 hours up & back, and shuttling between our families in southern Minnesota.) This year our plan — or rather God’s plan — was to stay put! After the years we spent over-the-road (a transient ‘home’ at best), it was glorious to wake up in our own bed.

Ironically, we both woke up at 3:30 a.m. — don’t ask me why. But, it wasn’t too far off from our usual 4:30 a.m. start to the day, and the coffee and companionship made up for our lack of sleep. Of course, we were missing our families! Sometimes you have to make ‘the hard decision,’ but we knew in our hearts God meant this one just for ‘us.’

Once the sun got up over the hill, it became apparent that it was an ideal morning for canoeing. Earlier this year we’d acquired an ol’ ancient canoe full of dents and patches (still seaworthy in spite of its forlorn appearance) and this was the first time we’d ever taken it out on the lake together. It didn’t take long for us to resume our mutual cadence — Russ at the stern, me at the bow — slicing our oars through the water as though we’d been canoeing every day, instead of for the first time in almost a decade.

We paddled about two-thirds of the way across the lake, then let a light breeze turn the canoe so it drifted slowly back toward the bluff, and Russ spent the entire time casting and ‘trolling’ (of sorts) while I alternately closed my eyes and basked in the sun or scanned the scenic shoreline. (“Don’t ask me why” #2 — I didn’t get my fishing license this year, so I didn’t have my pole along.) Somehow I suspect we might have fared better fish-wise with two hooks in the water instead of one, yet I was content to observe — and he caught a keeper.

Russ has such a natural grace about him when he’s fishing. The way he holds his fishing rod and the rhythmic way he reels in or ‘jigs’ borders on art! I derived more satisfaction out of watching him ‘at work’ than if I’d been handling a pole myself. (My attempts at fishing usually involve hooking every ‘snag,’ tipping over the tackle box, and spending more time with my hook out of the water than in to replace lost lures…)

After we reached the ‘driftwood trees’ in front of the bluff, we paddled between those massive petrified ‘ghosts of a forest’ from days gone by. Their weathered trunks and branches are much larger than they appear from our deck and I enjoyed getting ‘up close and personal’ with them. They must have hundreds of stories to tell — in fact, they do! Dozens of fishing line remnants dangle from their gnarled, silver-gray grip where anglers have lost their lures. (Made me smile; at least “I’m not the only one.”)

An added bonus was seeing the Great Blue Herons perched on random stumps. Slipping by in the canoe with no motor to startle them, we got close enough to see just how large those majestic birds truly are. Numerous cranes also glided back and forth to wherever a beak-sized breakfast could be found as their white wings blazed in the sun against a backdrop of aquamarine lake and azure sky.

Not quite ready to go in, we paddled westward along the rugged shoreline. The wind picked up a bit (not enough to swamp the canoe) so we paddled to the next bay and back — about an hour ‘by water.’ Just then, a bald eagle suddenly took flight, soaring above the treetops in singular, spectacular glory. Moments like those make your senses come alive… seeing that regal bird leading the way overhead, feeling the steady strokes of our paddles, hearing the rippling water caressing the canoe. It wasn’t just a blessing, it was a hug from God!

Our other senses were blessed, too — following this adventure, I grilled some mighty-good-smelling burgers and topped ‘em with tomatoes right out of the garden. (You just can’t beat that ‘fresh tomato taste’ on a sizzling burger!) It was a wonderful holiday for both of us.

Sometimes I think Jeremiah 29:11 has become ‘popular’ because of the “implied” blessings in the NIV translation (no disrespect intended) and our inflated expectations of what they might be. Per the King James version (vs. 11-13), there’s more involved than God simply doling out His goodness and grace. He does intend to bless us, and He will — when we seek Him with all our heart.

I’ve come to believe that God’s greatest blessings are His peace and presence. They turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

Enjoying doing what I do,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ August 2014

Baileys Chocolates

In My Kitchen (and dangerously close to disappearing when this photo was taken) are were these Bailey’s Irish Creme Chocolates. ‘Nuff said.

Potholders

In My Kitchen are the first new potholders I’ve had in years. I liked the ‘wine design’ and they make me happy when I use them. Funny how the ‘kitchen warriors’ we oft put to work for us can become so sadly and sorely neglected. I will pay more attention to you, lil’ potholders, I promise!

Pesto

In My Kitchen (many times over) is this marvelous tasting Pesto Genovese. It’s Chef Dennis Littley’s recipe (and fault for addicting me, lol!), and I’m probably going to turn green from eating so much basil… but I can’t help myself. Thanks, Dennis!

Cantaloupe

In My Kitchen (or rather, out on the deck) is a bowl of cantaloupe. A colorful bounty of produce makes me grateful and gleeful. How about you?

Many thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hostessing this ever-expanding monthly peek at kitchen gadgets and yummy stuff from around the world, xo. (Check the side bar on her blog for more links, or to add your own — and please say hello!)

What’s in your kitchen?

Enjoying IMK and new goodies,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Skillet Love

Summer Skillet

I used to think cast iron skillets were for frying chicken. Bacon and eggs. Steak. Spam. (And some pretty decent hashbrowns.)

Then Mom gave me these cherished relics — the lil’ Griswold skillet (above), and the Sperry griddle and larger “Never Break” skillet (below.)

Skillet Love 1

Generations of women cooked ‘real food’ in these pans — Mom, Grandma, and Mrs. Rogers (my piano teacher, to whom the “Never Break” belonged) — and I’m honored to be next in line. Considering that Mrs. Rogers was approaching 80 when I was a mere babe in the kitchen (my last piano lesson was over 40 years ago), I’d say her skillet was well-seasoned. The others, too.

Come to think of it, so am I. ;)

I can still ‘see’ Mom cooking breakfasts in that lil’ skillet, and one of my favorites was a Bohemian pancake (of sorts) called “Schmun.” I have no idea if the spelling is correct, but it was fun Googling it… amazing what you can find out about folks when your Czech is rusty or non-existent!

Schmun consists of 2 eggs lightly beaten, a cup of milk, a cup of flour, and a pinch of salt, whisked ’til smooth and fried to golden goodness in a liberally buttered hot cast iron skillet. About mid-way through, you start cutting the ‘big pancake’ into smaller pieces — similar to when the smaller space ships broke off from the Mother Ship in “Independence Day” — and continue frying the ‘independent’ pieces until all the sides are nicely browned. Add more butter… if needed? (That wasn’t a trick question.) Serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

I cooked with that skillet for the first time when I made meals for my folks on the ol’ Norge last year, and it primarily served as a sauté pan. (Mom developed a penchant for microwave cooking during the last decade and got rid of her ‘other’ pans.) Thanks heavens she kept the cast iron! I had yet to discover its wonders.

Then, last fall my sister came bearing a heavy box when she visited. Not only had Mom sent the skillets and griddle, she included two slightly battered lids — one large and one small. Anybody remember those? (I sent the larger one back with my Sis for her efforts, and to share the skillet love!)

Skillet Love 2

Lo and behold this summer, my garden began producing a bounty of veggies — particularly grape tomatoes, or so the label said. (They’re more the size of a plum tomato!) Previous assumptions ‘cast’ aside (I know…), I began to experiment with my skillet stash with divine results.

Tomatoes 1

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some sliced tomatoes combined with summer squash, a sprinkle of cracked pepper and sea salt (or Pink Himalayan), and possibly Greek seasoning (or whatever ‘flavor of the day’ tickles my fancy — my adjunct seasonings vary every time, such fun!), and in ten minutes or less supper’s on the table. (Or at least my supper… ) The kitchen also doesn’t heat up from steaming and/or roasting.

I adore cast iron cooking!

No need to be concerned about tomato’s acidity on the skillets — or me. (By the way, that’s not intended as ‘medical advice.’) I did some research and nearly every article said it was a matter of ‘seasoning’ to thwart any ill-effects. Start with a well-seasoned skillet; re-season as needed. FYI, the contrary articles said ‘use your judgment.’ Done deal. I’m pretty sure my skillets have built up a protective coating after a century — plus I take good care of them. (And me!)

I’m reaping the flavorful benefits of kitchen savvy and cooking vessels from women I’ve long admired — that goes for you, too, Sis! — and I’m loving it.

Summer Skillet 2

Enjoying a lil’ skillet love,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Rhapsody in Blue VI

Laugh

I used to be the world’s worst — or most flagrant — impulse-buyer. Whenever I ‘saw’ something that appealed to my eyeballs (whether I needed it or not), into my cart it went. Sigh… live and learn.

A few decades (and several budgetary revelations) later, I recognized the error of my ways and eventually figured out that happiness wasn’t the result of the latest greatest gadget, handy-dandy doodad, or “shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooh ahhh” frill or froufrou — it’s the accumulation of meaningful moments… a compendium of conscious choices… and often, a mirror of what’s going on within.

The void isn’t filled with ‘stuff.’

There were times when my self-esteem was sooooo lacking I almost cried thinking about it — but I didn’t. Know why? Because what matters most is now. In the past, shopping and fill in the blank here ___________ were temporary fixes, and on those occasions when I took myself (and less reliable second parties) waaaaaay too seriously in an attempt to make up for my supposed lack — well, I was taking unsolicited advice to heart — and second-guessing myself.

When it comes down to what (and who) you ‘believe,’ please put yourself first in line! Take the Truth into consideration — you’ll know in your heart-of-hearts what it is — and don’t let anyone dissuade you or convince you otherwise!

Old Boy close up

A few mornings ago I was sitting on the deck when I happened to glance to my left. (FYI, I don’t think it was a coincidence.) There, perched on a tree at the edge of the bluff, was my lake buddy, Old Boy. He wasn’t doing anything special or spectacular, other than hanging out — like me. In that moment of soul-searing self-awareness, I realized that I was smiling. Broadly.

There wasn’t a single ‘worldly good’ in front of me, except for my new coffee mug (above) purchased for a buck off the clearance rack at the Dollar Store. (I still allow myself such frivolities occasionally, albeit within my budget.) It dawned on me for the thirteen-millionth time or so in the last five decades that this is what it’s all about — small graces and huge blessings!

Your worth is not equivalent to the contents of your shopping cart!

If I ‘valued’ myself by the size of my purchases these days, I’d be pretty small indeed. How easy it is to succumb to the more/bigger/better mindset (been there, done that)… prompted by heavily marketed ‘wants’ and anxiety-producing illusory ‘needs.’ Stop!

The next time you’re tempted to add ‘one more thing’ to your shopping cart (or life) — especially a ‘not-on-your-list’ item — take a moment to interrupt your reverie and ask yourself: “Does this add value to my life — or am I trying to create artificial value? Reality check — how much do you value yourself… truthfully?

If there’s any doubt as to the answer to that last question, proceed with haste to the nearest full-length mirror (forget about your place in line!) and take a good long look… then smile at your reflection. You’re worth soooooo much more than an ‘impulse buy.’ Get what you need — give yourself what you need on occasion (without guilt) — and get rid of the rest!

As if to affirm my present state of ‘older & wiser’ contentedness, Old Boy turned toward me with this ‘look’ and I couldn’t help but laugh!

Old Boy 5

See yourself through the eyes of a true friend.

Folks (and Great Blue Herons) who appreciate you — who value you, quirks and all, with their honest insights are worth more than shopping-carts-full of temporary fixes. Allow yourself those rare moments of grace and good humor — believe those sincere, supportive, heartfelt estimations of your worth (can we say discernment with a capital D?!), shore up your own ‘self-worth’ to match asap if need be, and, most of all, be as kind to yourself as you are to everybody else!

Our human frailties, the uniqueness of our weaknesses and how ‘fickle’ we tend to be (depending on the latest input and what we choose to ‘think’) — as well as what we think of ourselves — are entirely a matter of perspective.

Sometimes all it takes is a friend looking you straight in the eye to see the Truth.

Believe it!

It’s amazing to me (and a lil’ bit disconcerting) how quickly we complicate the simple things — the important things! — and how prone we are to believe the worst — especially of ourselves. Please take a non-critical look in another direction — if need be, through the eyes of a true friend — then decide to be your own best friend!

Enjoying unabashed honesty from trusted friends (including myself) after all these years,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ July 2014

Lox & Bagel Pizza 2

(Kindly hover for the hocus pocus ;)

In My Kitchen… is Lox & ‘Bagel’ Pizza.

This lil’ combo was a rainy day project, and a mighty tasty one, too. (Recipe follows.)

I was craving smoked salmon (when am I not?!) and when it rains my oven is on!

In My Kitchen… is fresh tomato pasta sauce.

With a smidge of fresh basil and oregano, a few cloves of garlic, a grind of the pepper mill and a pinch of sea salt, standing over the stove soon leads to sauce-dom!

But when the sun is shining…

In My Kitchen… I’m nowhere to be found.

Our dear friends brought over a mouth-watering shrimp boil and I ‘filled in’ the rest — salad greens & homemade Ranch dressing with a kick (thank you, Colleen!), Tandoori chicken skewers (thanks, Dennis!), a delectable dipping oil with focaccia, my beloved olives ;) and the quintessential dessert: chocolate chip cookies. A picnic table repast!

By the way, I did discover a couple of ‘finds’ since the last IMK. Look closely and you’ll see a glorious lil’ copper pot doubling as a serving tray for the aforementioned cookies, plus a pair of rustic-looking placemats in the first photo. Long live thrift stores!

Okay, here’s that pizza recipe…

Lox & Bagel Pizza

1 (7.5 oz.) gluten free pizza crust mix, prepared per pkg. instructions
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. light cream
2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan
1 small fresh tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
Toppings:
Smoked salmon
Capers
Green onions with tops, sliced diagonally
Fresh basil, cut ala chiffonade (ribbons)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Make pizza crust as directed (or not — I subbed Feta cheese for the recommended grated Cheddar.) Press dough onto an ungreased baking sheet to form a thin crust with slightly raised edges.

Mix cream cheese and cream until smooth; spread over crust. Top with tomato and onion slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 13-15 minutes.

Top with smoked salmon, capers, green onions, and basil. Eat!

In My Kitchen is a monthly event cordially hostessed by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Please see the links in her sidebar and do pop in to say hello — kitchens from around the world are at your fingertips!

Enjoying summer fun in my kitchen — & out,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch