A Labor of Love

Hello, and Happy Labor Day weekend.

Have you ever done something that entailed a lot of work, but it didn’t seem like work at all? Those are the moments that make my heart sing. How about you?

Pictured above is the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon I made for the hard-working folks at The Mission last Monday — yes, that’s moi in the red apron — followed by “re-invented” meals on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Waste not, want not! My initial spread consisted of a salad bar, fried chicken (from a local grocery store deli by request), roast beef, homemade mashed potatoes (peeled 30 pounds at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning), cream gravy (theirs), and beef gravy (mine), which subsequently morphed into biscuits & gravy with a green salad, fresh fruit, and garlic bread sticks on Tuesday; a ham dinner on Wednesday (the food pantry supervisor wanted us to “taste test” the ham she bought before ordering more to give them out in our Thanksgiving/Christmas baskets — two thumbs up!); and ham salad sandwiches (they don’t call me the Queen of Leftovers for nothin’) with homemade cream of veggie soup on Thursday. Oh, and Rice Krispie bars with M’n’M’s because my “Zuppa Inglese” (English Trifle) ran out early in the week… a favorite from the 1970’s… sponge cake layered with strawberries & raspberries, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and grated dark chocolate. Swoon…

The whole point of this Labor of Love was to show folks how much they’re appreciated — NOT about meal planning, menus, or kitchen stamina — although I heard a few comments about that too, xo. One gal even called me Superwoman. Don’t I wish? :)

Behind The Mission’s philanthropic venture to feed the hungry are many dedicated volunteers, including our backroom staff that tirelessly sorts through the daily donations and carries them to the thrift store (which generates funds to buy more food for the pantry) or packs them into barrels to ship to South America to help the needy there; the fix-it folks who test (or fix) every appliance, lamp, and/or toy before they head to the sales floor in working condition (often inserting batteries at our expense); the guys who run to the food banks in Tulsa, Muskogee, or McAlester on their own time and expense with their trucks and/or trailers to keep the food pantry shelves stocked; the pantry people who order supplies, stock shelves after every incoming shipment, and fill grocery carts for 250+ families/month (elderly, disabled, Veterans, grandparents with newly arrived grandchildren by proxy, and folks facing dire circumstances) plus the “cart runners” who courteously accompany them out to their vehicles and help unload; the front counter staff (good-natured checkout clerks who rely on God’s grace, gut instinct, and common sense to fairly price everything folks bring up to buy because much of it isn’t “priced” — we don’t have time to put price tags on everything!); the gal who takes time to glean and tag “designer items” for our two boutique racks (I’m tellin’ ya, I bought a Calvin Klein purse there for $3…) to generate even more sales for the food pantry; another lovely lady who sorts through the jewelry and updates our display racks every day (she’s also in charge of setting aside/storing select items for holidays, especially Christmas); our “day managers” who troubleshoot as well as tend to the deposit at the end of each day; the Mission Treasurer who keeps our bookkeeping straight; our empathetic intake staff who listens with love and compassion to heartbreaking life-stories inorder to give folks the help they need; and even a “roving reporter” who keeps the community apprised of our goings-on to solicit more support; plus myriad others who keep The Mission functional and viable,  including a sweet lady who designs our display shelves every Monday, one who arranges silk floral displays because she “likes to”, the janitor who cleans the place once a week, another treasured volunteer who takes home Barbie dolls and baby dolls to clean them up on her own time and/or culls through countless children’s books to encourage kids to read, and everybody else who donates “all of the above” — or used shopping bags. Thank you! We couldn’t do it without you.

(Apologies if I forgot anyone… time to rest and relax… hope you are, too!)

My Labor of Love is insignificant compared to all that goes on at The Mission and it seemed important for me to divulge that. Cooking because I love to (and can) is one thing, but VOLUNTEERING to help the helpless is a whole ‘nother level of love.

What makes your heart sing?

Enjoying being chairman of that motley crew (and cooking for them),

~ Kim

The Current State Of Capital K

A few years ago I penned this post about being “nicknamed” and how thrilled I was to find a Capital K to express myself. Despite heartfelt pleas to PLEASE call me by my name (with continued disregard for my feelings and/or preferences, all in the name of endearing) it went on for six decades. FYI, my late brother and sister also despised their “lifelong nicknames.” I was sick of it — no disrespect intended — but there comes a time to draw the line and that’s the Truth.

Fast forward to The Current State of Capital K.

Initially (no pun intended, lol!) I was enamored by its old-school-font and whitewashed exterior — a fresh start — but soon after it arrived I relegated it to a bookshelf until I had time to decide what to do with it. Cool the way it was, but it was “missing something.” Sometimes self-discovery (and playfulness) takes awhile.

Last weekend I finally released my Capital K from its bookshelf-bondage, painted it metallic copper, added a few pressed-flower stickers I intended to give my sister (who died before I could “gift” her with my latest thrift store find) and thought NOW is the perfect time to play. Welcome to the new Capital K! I’m feeling more like “me” by the day.

My name is Kim — without a “nickname” attached.

Enjoying the freedom to be me at last,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ March 2019

In My Kitchen… I’m desperately trying to get used to a new computer. (Apologies for my lack of reply on previous posts — it’s been a long three weeks.) Despite not being able to find photos where they once were,  volumes of writing relegated to “obsolete” files and general mayhem, I’m still having FUN. Isn’t that what life is all about? If I can do it, anyone can! Here’s to learning something new.

Meanwhile I acquired a few more kitchen essentials — never mind stating I’ve almost reached my limit. Along came this Aroma multi-purpose vessel in pristine condition. Cook, steam, bake, fry, woohoo! Although it isn’t their latest digital version, it works. I also added two salad bowls, a trio of stainless steel ramekins, and a few more meals for The Man Of Few Words and moi.

In My Kitchen… is a quintet of California Olive Oils. To me, they’re like good wine. Their flavor only improves with age. My hubby has also gotten used to my “experimenting.” :)

In My Kitchen… another dear friend asked when I was going to finish my story about Minneapolis. Here ya go, Stan!

Minneapolis is special to me because of so many “firsts” there: First symphony concert. First taste of good wine. (Gotta love those wine-tasting parties in the ’80’s.) Dedicating the plaza at Orchestra Hall to the strains of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man.” (Yes, I actually went to band camp three times; I was also privileged to perform onstage there and shake Hubert Humphrey’s hand.) First walkabout with my son in Minneapolis’s one-of-a-kind skyline (a big thrill for this small town girl) — Brit’s Pub was our favorite haunt with its rooftop seating, lawn bowling, and stellar menu –food or otherwise. (Mary Tyler Moore’s nearby statue was also a mandatory stop — life is so much better when you throw your hat in the air and do the “twirl!”) First dueling piano performance. First train ride from the Mall Of America to “downtown.” First of many late-night airport pickups when I was in caretaker mode and winter was in full swing (-50 below zero) and our only thought was how to survive the two-hour trip back home. (Walking about was not an option!) I soooo don’t miss the snow and cold. I could go on, but you get it. Great city. Great memories.

Please feel free to click on or join Sherry’s monthly frolics to peruse posts from around the world for more In My Kitchen adventures. Next up…  Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup with Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, and Granny Smith Apples. (Will let y’all know how that turns out with a few tweaks.) Be adventurous. Learn something new!

Enjoying old memories and new recipes,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ August 2018

Oklahoma rocks

Greetings from Oklahoma, at long last. It’s been awhile since I’ve played in this forum and I’m tickled to be here. I’m also looking forward to catching up with you!

In My Kitchen… I’m celebrating the continuity of daily life. Simple things like setting up the coffeemaker for The Man of Few Words’ 4:15 a.m. wake-up call or planning meals for his return at the end of the day bring me profound JOY. Some may consider that mundane, but I’m reveling in the “routine-ness” of it all after being at the mercy of my phone for the past five years and/or living out of a suitcase for months on end. I’m finally home.

Canister set

In My Kitchen… a few essentials found their way into my repertoire, such as this stainless steel canister set — another thrift store bargain — brand new in the box! Previously I would’ve filled them with flour and sugar, etc., but these are destined to store rice: arborio, basmati, brown, and jasmine. (I keep my coveted wild rice stash in the freezer to preserve its “nuttiness.” You can take the girl out of Minnesota, lol…)

I also invested in a lethal-looking vegetable cleaver in hopes of bringing my knife skills up to “chef speed” someday, but right now preserving my piano playin’ fingers is a higher priority. I love looking at it though. Gorgeous! (Michael Symon, please help?)

In My Kitchen… healthy food is also a priority. I came home packing extra pounds (argh) and I’m determined to shed them a.s.a.p! Thank goodness for the generous gardeners willing to share their produce. Next year I hope to be among the givers instead of receivers, but I’m grateful for the thoughtful folks who do. (Thanks, Rosie!) In the meantime, I enjoyed every bite of this Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomato.

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomato.JPG

Earlier on FB (during an infrequent attempt to let y’all know I was still alive & kickin’) I mentioned my “Crunchy Chicken Salad.” I promise to post that recipe soon! This was just your basic tuna, mayo, celery, and onion concoction — but oh, soooo good in a homegrown red ripe tomato.

Butterfly butter dish_01.JPG

In My Kitchen… is this beautiful butterfly butter dish — a surprise gift from my son. Tom drove me home from Minnesota and stayed for a few weeks, during which time we attended a grand opening of a friend’s store. (Sparkle & Rust in Stigler, Oklahoma — YAY, Cyanne!) What a delightful venue. I’ll be back…

Speaking of being back, I’m thrilled to be In My Kitchen again, in more ways than one. Many thanks to Sherry’s Pickings for hostessing this world-wide roundup. Always a pleasure to join you, my dear! If you’d like to see more or post your own adventures, please click on the link above.

Enjoying being home and being “me”,

~ Kim

“K” is for Kim

K is for Kim

My K arrived today!

There’s a story behind that and someday I may be at liberty to tell it, but not now.

Let’s just say its arrival was a re-defining moment in my life after a lifetime of being “nicknamed” something else.

My name is Kim!

Enjoying being “me” with a capital K, 

~ Kim

Beaded Beginnings

Hippie Beads 2

I grew up in the era of groovy. Far out. All righhht! The 1960’s.

But, on a small farm in rural Minnesota, love beads were a lil’ hard to come by.

So, I watched. Waited. Collected ideas. Five decades later, my creative space is finally starting to look like my dream.

Hippie Beads 3

Recently I began volunteering at our church’s Mission Store a few days a week, where the proceeds fund our food pantry. (I’ve always had a heart for feeding folks, be it from the quickly depleted shelves there or my own kitchen — every hour standing behind the check-out counter or my stove makes a difference in someone’s life.)

BTW, check-out clerks are allowed to “shop” during lulls and you never know what might show up in the donation bin. Last week it was Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume Two for 50¢.

This week it was groovy.

I spied the miscellaneous bag of beads when I walked in and immediately recognized their former glory and potential. (My dream!) Nobody paid attention to them for hours, so I watched. Waited. (Until my break.) Snapped them up and hung them up at home!

TMOFW smiles at my ongoing Boho notions.

Speaking of which… my friend Ally offers tons of inspiration and encouragement re: living the life you’ve dreamed of on her website and in her VRAI inaugural e-magazine. Plus, she’s hostessing a custom Boho jewelry give-away. Such fun! As she’s oft said: “Dreams have no expiration date.”

Yes ma’am, gal pal. Don’t I know? :)

Enjoying groovy dreams come true,

~ Kim

Happy Places

My New Happy Place

In this chaos-filled world it’s important to find or create Happy Places to feed your soul. Somewhere to step back or away. A hopeful point of view that renews and regenerates.

Today it was as simple as splurging on a pot of flowers.

(Okay, two…)

Posies

I’ve been looking at that burned up ol’ stump long enough. Time to add some color to it! The end result made me happy.

I was also tickled to be grilling out this Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to every soul who contributed to such unabashed freedom. (Feeling blessed.) Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed, nor unappreciated.

Grill Full of Goodness

Make the world a happier place, beginning with yours. Do whatever you need to do to give… thank a Veteran… and remember the fallen. We owe them so much.

Enjoying a peaceful (and tasty) weekend at the lake,

~ Kim