Reflections

Clouds 4

The other day I stopped at a thrift store along the highway to poke around for a bit. (Cheap entertainment.)

On the way in I noticed a small Casio keyboard for sale (the kind with “light up keys” when you play the notes — an oldie, but a goodie) perched on a rickety stand on the dusty dirt “floor” outside. I didn’t pay much attention to it because my mind was on kitchen stuff (a girl’s gotta restock somehow) so I went inside in search of “treasures.”

Not long afterwards, a family came in — Ma and Pa with four young’uns in tow — who proceeded to scramble up and down each aisle in search of the next great “deal.” (Me, too.) Occasionally we bumped elbows and shared smiles and giggles as we went about our singular intended quests.

After I’d procured and paid for my $6.00’s worth of thrift store happiness, I exited the building intent on going home, but the keyboard beckoned…

On a whim (and because it was plugged in), I set my purse and “recycled Walmart bag” on the dirt floor and stood in front of the keys. What would I play?

An elderly gentleman (whom I’d conversed with earlier) was still slung on a bar stool (also for sale) and I wasn’t sure if he was loitering or just keepin’ an eye on things — but his face was weathered like the surrounding Oklahoma landscape and he interested me. He didn’t ask for a “concert,” but his stalwart presence and sense of fun elicited Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” as the optimal piece to play.

Within a few measures of the opening notes, a lil’ girl who reminded me of “Scout” (Atticus Finch’s daughter in “To Kill A Mockingbird” — one of my favorite novels) came running out the door and was glued to my elbow, watching… wondering… listening.

Soon, her three siblings quickly joined her.

Considering the majority of my “audience” was under 13 years old, I switched gears and said: “Here’s one I bet you know.” Then I proceeded to play the ‘Happy Dance’ theme song from the Charlie Brown specials. I love that song. (They seemed to, too.)

More smiles and giggles followed… theirs and mine.

When I finished, the lil’ gal commented: “You’re realllllly good!” and my response was: “Well, I’ve been playing piano for over 50 years now, so I’ve had LOTS of practice.”

(Imagine that… 50 years!)

The old guy just grinned, probably more about my age than my piano-playing prowess.

After that, we parted company — four youngsters and an “oldster” (or two) bolstered by strains of music from my past — music which I no longer have (everything burned up in the fire), but God graciously granted me “recall” for that impromptu concert. Playing from ‘memory’ was never my strong suit; it’s a discipline my piano teacher did her best to instill in me, and which others highly recommend for ‘freedom of expression.’ Unfortunately, the best I ever did was to comply by memorizing a piece or two for the requisite “piano recital” every Spring. (I need to work on that again.)

But, on occasion — on this occasion — I “remembered” — if only for the look of sheer joy on those young (and old) faces. Music was meant to be shared.

Back in my “hey day”(a half-century ago!), my piano teacher had aspirations for me to become a concert pianist — but life turned out otherwise. Now, it’s merely a ‘reflection’ of my past — and probably why I love the reflections on the lake (and music) so much… and Debussy to this day. Or the Charlie Brown theme. :)

Although I don’t have my old music books any more, I still enjoy sharing “music.” (Especially when youngsters — and “oldsters” are involved.)

Here’s one I used to play, illustrated by lovely Monet paintings (another love) and gorgeous real-life photos. Enjoy!

Debussy’s Reflections In The Water

Sunset before the storm 1

Whether or not life works out the way you (or others) once dreamed, you can still make a difference.

Enjoying “Reflections In The Water,”

~Kim

“Easy” Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

I love baking from scratch (really I do), but sometimes a lil’ “punting” is called for — especially when my pantry is low on ingredients and I’m hungry for fresh-from-the-oven goodness — now.

All I had on hand was King Arthur Flour’s gluten free “baking mix” and some previously frozen pumpkin to make a “pumpkin bread” (of sorts.) That, and years… and years… and years of baking experience.

After a somewhat desperate (allow me re-phrase that motivated!) online search, I discovered this recipe. Sadly I was missing a couple of ingredients — but, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“Easy” Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

(flagrantly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe)

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

1 c. sugar (I used 3/4 cup because The Man Of Few Words doesn’t like things “sweet” — except me. :)

1 large egg (the original recipe called for 3; I wanted pumpkin “bread” not pumpkin cake — plus I only had 1 egg!)

2 c. pumpkin puree (I made up for the lack of “egg moisture” with more pumpkin, which is why my bread is “orange-r”)

3 T. honey (another punt… fresh out of molasses, per the original recipe)

1 tsp. vanilla (truthfully I was out of vanilla, too, so I used 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar cuz… a girl’s gotta do!)

Sigh… I was also out of “pumpkin pie spice” (their recipe called for 1 tsp. of it)… so I used:

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

(Whatever works!!!)

2 c. King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix (not GF Flour)

Sparkle sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a loaf pan with shortening. (NOTE: I used a round casserole cuz I haven’t been able to replace my bread pans yet.) Adjust baking time as needed.

Mix together oil, sugar, egg, pumpkin, honey, vanilla (or apple cider vinegar) and spices in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Add baking mix and beat until combined. Let the batter rest 10 minutes. (I forgot to do this… see “hungry” ¶ 1.)

Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle top with sparkle sugar.

Bake 30 minutes, then tent with foil and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the “loaf” comes out clean. (Might take a lil’ longer than that… use your nose!) I can “smell” when things are done.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn “loaf” out onto the rack to cool completely.

(And, if in doubt about “my rendition”… make the original recipe!)

Pumpkin Bread 2

I think the results speak for themselves, don’t you?

(By the way, it made fabulous “French Toast” the next day.)

Wishing you a spontaneous weekend!

Enjoying freedom of expression (plus a few decades of ‘know how’) in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Frozen Pineapple Cilantro Mojito

Cilantro Mojito

One of the most refreshing beverages I had last summer was this Frozen Pineapple Cilantro Mojito. (Just brought home the ingredients to make a batch this weekend… and yes, I know it’s only Wednesday… some things are worth the wait. ;)

Now that our temps have soared to 100º F, I’m ready for more. (Cocktails, not heat!)

Credit goes to “Baking A Moment” and this recipe. Many thanks! Ahhhhh…

Enjoying a lil’ heat relief,

~ Kim

Musical Chairs

Lyrical Chairs

You don’t get to be my age and cultivate a sense of contentment by hanging onto things, but every once in awhile I miss my chairs.

They were a part of my life. Part of me.

I even dressed them up on occasion. ;)

Deck the halls... and chairs

Then along came my friend Marla for an impromptu “Girls Day” gathering at my house — with a surprise in tow.

Marla is a piano player. A dear friend. Someone who “gets” me.

Lookie what she brought!

The Chair

A friend of hers was clearing out some things when Marla spied “The Chair” and asked what she was going to do with it. In a moment of generosity, this cast off went from “throw-away” to “give-away.” I’ve been doubly blessed by generous hearts.

Despite the fact that it has no seat (that’s on The Man Of Few Words’ honey-do list) this gem is rife with possibilities. What color fabric? What kind of cushion? As I search for the “right” ones in the coming months, not only will I be merging past with present, I’ll be forging ahead. What an extraordinary gift… the sense of “connection” and promise.

Truly, I’m not defined by “stuff,” but I do recognize the value in treasures… and this chair is definitely one of them. So is my friend. xo

Enjoying an unexpected piece of my past,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ June 2015

In My Kitchen… are a bounty of blessings, but rather than describe each one at length, I’m deferring to a brief summary:

Colorful, appetite-appeasing, and soul-satisfying — especially the spices!

I’m so thankful to have a variety again.

In My Kitchen… is the cutest lil’ mortar and pestle.

I hope to have a large one someday, but for now it does the trick.

I’m prone to mix and mingle. :)

In My Kitchen… (or adjacent to it) is the ideal spot for growing herbs indoors.

Technically it’s a breakfast nook, but I’m not much of a breakfast eater so I renamed it “The Garden Room.”

I will be eating my way through these…

Things are coming along nicely!

I was thinking of painting the board on the bench a gorgeous tangerine or sunny yellow… what do you think?

For more delightful descriptions and a plethora of fascinating gadgets, please visit Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial where you can peruse kitchen goodies from around the world — and add your own, if you wish.

Enjoying a more flavorful life in my kitchen,

~ Kim

Girly Stuff

GirlyStuff

I’m not a “high maintenance” kind o’ gal by any stretch of the imagination. A pony tail and a pair of earrings do me just fine, thank you.

But, for the past six months I’ve taken care of sooooo many other things (necessarily so), I almost forgot to take care of myself!

Enter Girly Stuff…

In one corner of our “powder room” there’s a section of counter top that can only be described as a vanity.

I’ve never had one before. In fact, the very word brings up connotations of superficial self-absorption that gives me the heebie jeebies!

However, a few special women in my life bade me to look at things a lil’ differently… including myself.

Girly stuff 2

My Sis once told me she got a kick out of my “scrunchies.” I always color-coordinated them with my outfits — which has been a challenge this past half year since I’ve been wearing donated clothing in every color of the rainbow — hence, my new collection of rainbow-colored scrunchies. :)

The vintage wood-burned box was a gift from my very special sister-in-law, Candy, xo. The box belonged to my Grandma — truly a thoughtful gift! Come to think of it, Grandma had a vanity — one of those gorgeous antique dressers with an ornately framed mirror and a burgundy velvet-covered bench. I spent many happy hours playing “dress up” with her tortoise shell combs and softly scented White Shoulders talcum powder with the pale pink powder puff.

Yup, Girly Stuff.

Girly stuff

This whimsical lil’ make up bag (one of three sent by my dear friend, Ally, with the matching gift bow next to it, xo) incredibly matched my current “color scheme” in the powder room — and my more vibrant outlook on life. I love when that happens!

The fish bowl (literally) was a “find” on a recent outing — a gift to myself. (Slowly, but surely, I’m “getting it.”) I promptly turned it into a ‘jewelry box’ because hey… that’s the extent of my jewelry! (And bear in mind, it may make a guest appearance now and then in future foodie-related posts.)

Just sayin… :)

Vanity

Then there’s this beautiful one-of-a-kind bench given to me by my sweet friend, Jurine — my Sister’s best friend. (The bench belonged to my Sis — so did the gray tray on the counter.) That kind of giving knows no end! xo

How can I adequately express my appreciation to these lovely women who took care of me until I felt like taking care of myself once again? I love you! And you know what?

Girly Stuff feels good,

Enjoying the non-selfish aspects of “self care,”

~ Kim

P.S. I’m going to be offline for a couple of days (begging your pardon in advance) — my internet service is finally going to be transferred to our HOME. I’ve been running up and down the driveway between there and our “temporary house” for 3 months (!) and I can’t wait to set up shop and take even better care of moi… and YOU!

How High Is The Water, Mama? (Rhapsody in Blue VII)

Old Boy contemplates a cloud

Old Boy (my Great Blue Heron friend) usually sits in the “driftwood tree” farther out in the lake. Remember? 

These days he’s roosting elsewhere and I can’t blame him.

The tips of the branches you see in the photo below are the top of that tree after two weeks’ worth of rain… with another weeks’ worth of thunderstorms in the forecast.

High water

That’s a lot of water!

(Or, as they say around here: a “Lotawatah.”)

There’s a road by that name not far from here — for good reason.

High water 1

This photo is more “brown” than “blue” but you get the idea…

A neighbor called to check on the flooding by his cabin. (This is the photo I sent in reply.) Somehow it reminded me of Johnny Cash’s song, “Five Feet High and Rising.”

How high is the water, Mama? Two feet high and risin’… three feet high and risin’… four feet high and risin’ — and on it goes. Whether or not you’re a Johnny Cash fan, The Man In Black wrote real-life lyrics (even though his song pertained to flooding in next-door Arkansas at the time.) Yup… that’s our “real life” at present.

According to the Army Corp of Engineers — the efficient folks letting out the deluge day by day at the dam 15 miles east of here (yes, our lake is THAT big!) — Lake Eufaula is hovering around 598 feet… 13 feet above “normal.”

Disappearing driftwood tree

Generally there’s a 15 foot “drop” between the lake and our “lakeshore”

It’s comforting to know that the ol’ Lightning Tree has witnessed this before — and oh, how I love looking at things from a tree’s perspective! There’s less chaos and more calm about the rising water level when witnessed by a stalwart soul — merely a phenomenon to note (despite the waves crashing ashore on windy days) — ho hum, been there, done that. Que Sera Sera.

Thankfully we live farther up “the hill” and are safe and well, other than the occasional water moccasin (aka poisonous “cotton mouth” snake) in search of a place to sun themselves. Can’t blame them either! Their habitat is in more danger than ours.

Please pray for our friends and neighbors (vertebrates and invertebrates alike) living in the low-lying areas. We may be treading carefully these days, but at least we aren’t treading water!

Enjoying “life on the lake” in spite of things,

~ Kim