Thankful Thoughts

Autumn at the Lake

Perhaps this year (more than most) I have umpteen reasons to be thankful.

Oodles of ’em. Blessings beyond measure!

First and foremost is my health.

When you can’t move the left side of your body (or play piano or type with both hands or walk without dragging one leg) it gives you pause. A loooooong pause. Thanks to a lil’ (a LOT?!) of Divine intervention, I count myself among the miraculously restored.

Then, just when you thought everything that was important in your life (aka the “things” you thought somehow defined you) disappeared in a matter of hours, you begin to assess what’s really important to you. I’m talking’ about memories.

(I’m telling you, it’s memories!)

Make and/or create as many as you can — while you still can — for yourself, your family, and your friends. When it comes down to it, you can’t take it with you — but you can leave a lot behind.

Comfortable seating also helps…

Comfy chairs

After almost a year of parking my tookus on a lawn chair (and squirming midway through a movie) I begin to realize how many folks have less… much less… and my gratitude meter spiked a bazillion notches.

It also made me more discerning about what I really need (or that “w” word… want…) besides the clothes on my back. The day our recliners arrived I nearly did cartwheels in our living room — ever mindful and grateful to HAVE a living room — but I didn’t want to overexert myself.

Sometimes a nap is in order.

A place to rest

This Comfort Zone (since relocated to an adjacent corner) was courtesy of my late sister. I’m ever mindful of and thankful and grateful for it, because I’ll never forget her contribution to MY life (refer to memories above) and it feels like a HUG every time I crawl underneath the covers… ahhhhh. Again, make some memories… you never know who (or when) you’ll touch someone because of it.

Then there’s the “personalization” aspect.

Everybody has their own idea of what rocks their world, hoohah! For me, it’s vibrant colors tempered by neutrals…. a visual shock with a side of sedate. :) While I’m not completely sold on the hue yet, it’s coming along… and it may end up more “paprika” by the time I’m done… this was the first coat.

Accent wall

Since I brought up the topic of RED, I might as well show you my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie early. It’s TMOFW’s favorite pie, and there’s no reason to wait (and/or stress) until Thanksgiving morning to jockey oven space. Plus, I made it the “old fashioned way” with this red-handled egg beater — a  gift from my sweet friend Jurine, xo.

Yup, the manual kind.

Totally less ‘spatters’ that way! Plus, my man is enjoying his “just desserts” a few days in advance — whatever it takes to rock HIS world — and, I don’t have to clean pumpkin pie batter off of every counter top and appliance within a four-foot radius. (Can you relate?!) FYI, I might not be as ambitious about the whipped cream on Thursday… just sayin’.

Pumpkin Pie the old fashioned way

Last, but not least, I’d like to leave you with something unexpected cuz that’s how life has turned out for me. Sometimes a wander through the neighborhood produces a totally unanticipated delight — and something as simple as a late-season dandelion perking up its rowdy head makes me smile. (Remind me to do that more often.)

All of which leaves me counting my blessings and giving heartfelt thanks — for it, and for you.

Isn’t that what “Thanksgiving” is all about?

Autumn Surprise

Here’s one last Autumn look at the lake. It’s been GORGEOUS and I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

I appreciate YOU and your contributions to my memories more than I can adequately express. I love you all!


Enjoying untold blessings — savoring each & every one,

~ Kim

Evidence That I Still Cook (and Hugs to Paris)

In the wake of hearts grieving around the world, I have no words — only pictures to prove that I still cook. Sometimes the kitchen is the best place to be to care for loved ones (and yourself), and a satisfying meal at the end of the day — lovingly prepared and shared, is what it’s all about — whether it appears online or not.

During the past year I’ve come to understand life’s disruptions (although certainly not to that extent) and how much “living life” in the present with precious loved ones precludes posting.

If you’re interested in a particular recipe, please ask. (Hover over the photos for descriptions.) Thanks, xo

Praying for Paris,

~ Kim

Smoky Guacamole and a “Project”

Paint 1

It was a glorious day at the lake recently and I couldn’t help but tackle an outdoor “project” — with a snack, of course. (I’m soooooo not a chalk-painter, but I was inspired to try something new.) There’s also nothing like a lil’ premeditated “stress eating” appetizer to appease my angst. ;)

Some of you may recognize the bench in my bokeh background (praise God for photos that turn out, intentionally or not) as the antique beauty that once belonged to my sis, Laurie. I dickered long and hard about “altering” it — partly due to sentimentality and nostalgia, but mostly due to my Sis’s profound reverence for antiques.

Yet, somehow I knew she’d give me her heavenly nod for braving new frontiers and personalizing “my space.” The dull black finish just didn’t fit with my aqua-color-themed master bath and I was feeling feisty (and hungry), so out to the “veranda” I went — paint, brush, bench, and snack in hand. After the preliminary coat, it was time to indulge in some Smoky Guacamole. Ahhhh…

Smoky Guacamole

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/4 lemon

1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked sea salt, divided (I used Pepper Creek Farms applewood smoked sea salt — Oklahoma-made!)

1/2 small fresh tomato, seeded & diced

1 small clove garlic, peeled & minced

3 small green onions, thinly sliced (reserve some tops for garnish)

Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional — or not)

Blue corn tortilla chips

1. Place diced avocado in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, lemon juice, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt; mash together lightly with a fork.

2. Add diced tomato, minced garlic, and green onions. Give it another gentle stir.

3. Add a few drops of hot sauce if desired; stir again. (For me, hot sauce is not optional, and it’s usually more than a few drops!)

4. Adjust seasoning with remaining smoked sea salt. (You may not use all of it — or you may need more of it; depends on your taste buds and the size of the avocado.)

5. Garnish with reserved green onion tops and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

Paint 2This is my project mid-progress. I still need to sand off some corners (for character) and highlight the exceptional woodworking “garnishes” (curls & scrolls) before I give it a topcoat — and a new seat cover. The original worn red velvet is covered by faded green corduroy (indicating that somebody else was inspired to “re-do” it along the way) and I’ve been on the lookout for a stunning, artsy, bold print worthy of past memories and future enjoyment.

Life is about moving on… and forward.

In the meantime, I’ll bolster my refinishing efforts with more Smoky Guacamole. ;)

Enjoying fun in the Autumn sun,

~ Kim

Have you “personalized” your space? If so, how? (Do tell!)

Hamburger Steaks with Mushroom and Red Onion Gravy (Comfort Food III)


I’ve been making hamburger steaks forever. (Okay, decades…) Though not quite as “steak-ish” as the name implies, they’re still a step up from regular ol’ hamburgers. With a few extra seasonings and larger-than-burger-size patties (generally oval-shaped) smothered in rich brown gravy, what can I say? It’s comfort food!

And, they look like I worked harder and longer in the kitchen than I actually did. ;)

This week I decided to doll up the ol’ standby by adding mushrooms and red onions to my usual gravy — a happy compromise between TMOFW’s “basic” preferences and mine-all-over-the-map.

Hamburger Steak with Mushroom & Onion Gravy

Hamburger Steaks with Mushroom & Red Onion Gravy

1 lb. ground chuck

1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 small lemon)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3 to 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (sometimes I use rendered bacon fat…)

8 oz. whole button mushrooms

1/2 red onion, peeled

1 c. beef stock (I used homemade)

2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1/4 c. cold water

Salt & pepper to taste

Rosemary sprigs and several reserved browned mushrooms for garnish

In a large bowl combine ground chuck, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. (Feel free to add any other seasonings if desired at this point — oregano, Herbs de Provence, marjoram, etc.) Mix lightly with your hands and form into three oval “steaks.” Set aside to rest on a plate.

Meanwhile wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel, trim the stems, and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Quarter the onion and slice likewise.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat. (I’ve been known to add a lil’ butter on occasion, too.) When oil is shimmering, add about half the mushrooms — don’t crowd in too many or they’ll steam rather than brown — and sauté until golden on one side. Flip over with tongs and brown the other side. (Regulate heat as needed.)

Remove browned mushrooms to a bowl, reserving several for garnish. Add more oil to the skillet as needed and repeat until all mushrooms are browned.

In the same skillet, add the red onion slices (and more oil) and sauté until softened. Remove onions to a bowl. (I just throw ’em on top of the mushrooms.)

Now sear the hamburger steaks (same skillet) until well-browned on both sides. They don’t need to be cooked-through at this point, just browned. Transfer to a plate again while you make the gravy.

Deglaze the skillet by slowly pouring in the beef stock and scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. (Flavor!) Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in your cornstarch slurry. (You may not use all of it — add a lil’ at a time until “gravy” consistency is reached.) Reduce heat to medium and cook for several minutes.

Stir in mushrooms and onions; season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and place seared hamburger steaks on top; cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, basting “steaks” occasionally with the gravy.

Note: The gravy will be as flavorful (and seasoned) as your stock. Add salt and pepper judiciously. If subbing beef bouillon or canned beef broth, you might want to omit the salt altogether. (Taste as you go.)

Normally I serve these with mashed potatoes, but The Man Of Few Words took one look at all the mushrooms and said there were enough vegetables for this meal. :)

Garnish at will.

I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille…


For more Comfort Food (and recipes to boot), click here and here.

Enjoying comforting dinners,

~ Kim

Autumn at the Lake

Autumn 9

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a “walk about” (mostly due to torrential rains, flooding, and snakes earlier this year) but it was such a gorgeous, crisp Autumn morning I needed to be out in it.

With camera in tow, I trekked down the driveway to gaze at the water…

Followed by a glance up “the hill.”

Autumn 1


Touches of Autumn are becoming more apparent — that tree literally changed color overnight! A blessing and a marvel.

Then it was off to the end of the lane.

Autumn 2

I love trees that tell stories. This one is a stalwart soul reigning over a tangle of untamed wilderness (which is one of the reasons I love Oklahoma so much… it’s still “unsettled.”) The local king of the jungle, so to speak.

Every year our trees surprise, delight, and inspire me with their stories in progress.

I hope to add my own one day.

Autumn 3

Walking was slightly “crunchy” underfoot so I stopped to admire the acorns.

A veritable feast for the squirrels!

Then I ambled through the neighbor’s yard on my way back to the lake and discovered this rustic scene.

Autumn 4

And this…

Autumn 5

Elements of play surround me.

(I love that!)

Near the shoreline, other trees shared their stories about “life in progress.” There’s no competition or hurry to keep up here. You simply go (or grow) — or change — at your own pace. It’s all good.

Autumn 6

And after that…

It was time for a closer look.

Or two.

Autumn 8


Autumn 10

I feel SO close to heaven when I’m wandering about God’s creation.

Closer to Oklahoma.

Closer to “me” — and you.

Autumn at the Lake


Enjoying sharing Autumn at the lake,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ October 2015

Good things come in small packages (1)

In My Kitchen… is the sweetest lil’care package. My friend Jeanne Raffetto Tentis (a culinary instructor in Wisconsin and author of Queen Jeanne’s Cuisine) surprised me with this bundle of delights — an antique ramekin, snazzy kitchen towels, and a colorful array of tea light candles. Thank you, xo. Good things really do come in small packages!

Mexican vanilla

In My Kitchen… is a tiny bottle of Mexican vanilla that packs a BIG punch! The aroma is SO heady I’m tempted to unscrew the cap and take a whiff every time I walk by my pantry… ahhhh. (Mostly I save it for baking The Man Of Few Words goodies.) Hooray for cooler mornings! Below are a mini peach & blueberry cobbler (pie?) and a small batch of sugar cookies I made for that man o’ mine. I loooooove Autumn!!! (And obviously him.)

But, part of me wasn’t ready to give up Summer quite yet…

In My Kitchen… are these bold-colored bargains. The swizzle sticks (a parrot, palm tree, cactus, and an owl) are made from the most delicate glass — 25 cents for all four, yay! The beverage napkins were from the “dollar store” and the slice of lime in my ice water was in honor of Celia. ;) It’s fun to change up things In My Kitchen with a lil’ color and flavor — even plain ol’ water.

Speaking of color…

Color Scheme

In My Kitchen (next to it)… are paint swatches. These are the potential candidates for my Garden Room bench. Remember the vote? Tangerine won! (Now to figure out which shade of tangerine.) The colors are more vibrant than they appear (Oklahoma’s summery sunshine ‘n’ all) and their names are as appealing as their hues: Baby Carrot, Savory, Autumn Harvest…

To see other colorful, flavorful kitchen goodies (from small to large) ’round the world please visit Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. The links are in her sidebar.

Enjoying seasonal shifts and year-round friendships,

~ Kim

Comfort Zones

Comfort Zone

The first day of Autumn has come and gone and I’ve officially entered my Comfort Zone. “A place or situation where one feels safe and at ease without stress.” (Definition courtesy of Google.) I’d add: “An area within your soul that feels like you’ve finally come home… a sacred place that nurtures creativity.” 

Whenever I listen intently to my soul (particularly this time of year) that “still, small Voice” speaks volumes. It also guides me to some amazingly comforting, creative places.

My kitchen ranks right up there as a Comfort Zone, followed closely by my piano bench. (Sometimes it’s this trundle bed, courtesy of my sister.) Other days, Comfort wraps its loving arms around me in the passionate embrace of cooler nights and invigorating mornings. I feel wide awake. Rarin’ to go. Or, content to simply “be.”

Autumn isn’t a dying season to me — it’s full of renewed possibilities — and I need to (must) take advantage of it.

That said, I’ll be spending more time offline than on in the coming weeks as I renew and “regroup” — and possibly take a nap (or two or three) on that trundle bed. Ahhhh…

Where (or when) is your Comfort Zone?

Enjoying everything Autumn,

~ Kim