Putting Away Pieces of My Life

Assimilate: 1 take in (information, ideas, or culture) and understand fully; 2 cause (something) to resemble; liken.

Since the first of June I’ve been trying to assimilate the fifteen boxes of “stuff” (with a capital S!) that I hauled home from Minnesota into my present-day life — and decor. Truthfully, I don’t “understand fully” how such polar opposites (housekeeping and memorabilia-wise) could evolve from the same household. But, it is what it is.

Basically, I’m stymied as to how to “liken” 60 years’ worth of someone else’s worldly goods into my home without losing my identity.

Apparently Mom was (is) a sentimentalist. Keeper of every greeting card she was ever given — with family mementos stashed between. (Trust me, I thumbed through thousands of ’em.) Appliance manuals, dishes, and clothing dating back to 1955 and beyond. Bank statements and tax returns, too.

I gave Grandpa’s 1940’s income tax paperwork and “corn loan papers” to my Mom’s cousin and his wife — farmers and historians, to boot. (Hallelujah.) It wasn’t just Mom’s stuff I dealt with, it was my grandparents’, two uncles’, my Dad’s, my Sister’s, and my brother’s. Overwhelming, to say the least.

Part of the difficulty in assimilating another person’s stuff into your life (and home) is that you don’t have the same frame of reference or memories they did. What was once special to Mom isn’t necessarily pertinent to me.

Here’s some of the what I brought home. A 10th (100th?) of what awaits for me to “sort” next summer. Yay for storage units! (Out of sight, out of mind?)

Stuff close up

The gravy bowl and recipe box I “remember” (fondly) because I used them.

The rest, not so much.

Here’s what else I “assimilated.” The odd ducks on my bookshelves.

Favorites

The Brownie cameras were my Grandma’s and Uncle’s. (The replica next to ’em was a gift from my daughter, xo.) Y’all know how much I love photography — even if my photos don’t always prove it. :) The Haviland demitasse cup was my piano teacher’s, or at least I “assume” it was. (She favored such things.) Without stories or memories attached — or passed down — they’re just “pretty things.” (Taking up shelf space, I might add.)

Sadly, there’s a continental divide between what I know (or have been “told”) re: the history surrounding most of these treasures. Mom’s memory ain’t what it used to be (mine isn’t either) and my past is disappearing by the day.

Was the dainty china cup a gift or a family heirloom? (I’m keepin’ it, even if it doesn’t fit my fingers!) The goblet in the corner was a reincarnation of the original Big Daddy , courtesy of my pal Tammy, xo. The “sculpture” (back right) was my interpretation of art after I scrounged whatever I could amidst the rubble of our front yard after the fire — part molten glass from our former living room windows, part melted aluminum hub caps from TMOFW’s “toasted” Ford truck. (I thought it looked kinda like a “wave” — a funky, familiar, relevant piece of “us” as perceived by me.) Art is in the eye of the beholder. Memorabilia, too.

Then there are books. (Lots and lots of books.) Currently I’m sorting through (and culling) Dad’s Zane Grey “collector Westerns” and my Sis’s Time-Life gardening and cookbook series. Miscellaneous reference volumes (most of which I’m keeping) and “how-to’s” for writers (all of which I’m keeping!)

So many tomes, so little time.

Or shelf space.

Tom n Me

However, it hasn’t all been work and no play. There’s been fun stuff, too (with a capital F! ;), including this “photo booth” snapshot (remember those?) taken a few months ago during one of my son’s & my outings with some of his heartfelt sentiments. I’m compelled to keep these forever, xo.

BTW I’m heading out to visit my daughter this week (off the grid, unless she posts FB photos, lol.) Be prepared! And, my son is driving down to visit me next week. Stay tuned.

Assimilate what you can however you can. And remember…

Simplify

One box. One shelf. One memory at a time.

Determine what’s important for you to keep.

Enjoying creating “present day perfect” from past tense,

~ Kim

The Art of Sitting

The Art of Sitting

The Art of Sitting has nearly become extinct. Few people know how to sit without feeling the vague pressure to do something else.

When did we get in such a hurry?

My education in sitting began at a young age. Later, I succumbed to the busy years. High school activities, first job(s), marriage, parenthood… but, something was missing.

(Mostly sitting down.)

Then came “the trucking years.” All I did was sit, but at least it was scenic!

After I slowed down long enough to stay in one spot, I remembered the supreme serenity that came from sitting quietly and contentedly. Contemplating something or nothing at all. Simply “being.”

I credit my Dad for that late-in-life rediscovery.

Several years before he passed, I began giving him chairs as gifts (not big ones, although the man-sized leather recliner in his workshop was one of his favorites) to express thanks for teaching me one of the most important lessons in life.

Sitting still.

I treasure every moment that Dad & I spent in a fishing boat waiting for a walleye to bite, on the front porch watching corn grow, in the shade of the ash trees “taking a break”, out the dining room windows witnessing a spectacular sunset through the pine silhouettes in the grove, or at his bedside telling “stories.”

Now Dad’s quirky fun lil’ chairs have come home with me. (Wish I’d thought of it sooner… there’d be more.)

The Art of Sitting 1

I’ll be contemplating their significance for some time to come.

Sitting, of course.

Enjoying a less frenetic pace at the lake,

~ Kim

Triangulated (A Tasty Trio)

I must live in the Bermuda Triangle.

Every day I chart my course, set sail, and end up somewhere else. The phone rings, a text demands urgent attention or an email requires immediate action, and whoosh there I go. So much for goals! (I suspect you’re in the same boat.)

Thankfully, I love triangles.

My fascination with three-sided shapes hearkens back to high school Calculus  — mostly because the words ‘Pythagorean Theorem’ intrigued me — and by some quirk of fate, I ended up in advanced math. (Insert chuckle and/or Bermuda Triangle here.) Despite my  verbal affinities (and/or innate proclivity for naivety, lol), I managed to pull an A. But, just because I fared well grade-wise doesn’t mean I knew what I was doing. (I still don’t.) Welcome to my life! :)

Some folks assert there’s an alternate reality, but I say: this is reality. Do the work, even if it’s not what you planned. (Surprise!)

There are greater forces than our “to-do lists,” but ya never know what God (or the Universe) has planned for you to “do” on any given day. The trick is to fit your dreams between interstellar cracks wherever and whenever  you can.

Which brings me to three unexpected flavors.. Good things come in 3’s, yes?

Tapenade on Toast Triangles 2

Bermuda Triangle Tapenade

(Adapted from 3 recipes: Wolfgang Puck’s Black & Green Olive Tapenade, Real Housemoms Three Olive Tapenade, and Olive Crostini by Simply Recipes.)

1 baguette sliced in 1/2-inch rounds, or triangles made from gluten-free bread, brushed with EVOO — or excess chive oil from this post. Waste not, want not.

1 c. Kalamata olives, pitted (if need be), halved

1 c. large green olives stuffed with pimentos (I used Mezzetta’s Martini olives marinated in Vermouth)

1 c. large black olives, pitted and halved (ditto on “if need be”)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2-3 Tbsp. capers, drained (I tend to lean towards 3 Tbsp. :)

1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 Tbsp. dried basil (fresh is best, but still workin’ on my herb garden)

1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

A dash or two (or three!) dried ground oregano and thyme

3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400º F. Place baguette rounds — or bread triangles — on an ungreased baking sheet lined with foil for easier clean-up. Bake 10 minutes or ’til lightly browned. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

Pulverize all but the EVVO in a food processor until chunky. (Resist the temptation to over-process.) The same applies to life; we often over-process or overthink. No need!

Drizzle in EVOO until mixture reaches a spreadable consistency. You’ll know “when.” (If not, it’ll still taste good.) Slather tapenade on toasted bread or baguette slices. Enjoy!

Refrigerate leftovers for up to a week. Or, mix ’em with marinara and a bowlful of al dente pasta for a fab side dish or main meal before then. Salad & bread optional.

Crab Cakes and Marinated Asparagus Salad

The other 2/3’s of this Trio (even if they aren’t triangular!) are Chef Dennis Littley’s “My Famous Crabcakes and Kevin Lynch’s Grilled Asparagus with Marinated Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Kalamata Olives ala salad shown above — one of Kevin’s many alternatives. Thanks, gentlemen, xo! My taste buds were SO tickled — and yours will be, too, after you click on the links.

FYI, I scaled down all three recipes to meet TMOFW’s appetite (and mine lately) with our ongoing HOT streak. (100º+) Sorry for not including the conversions, but as I tell my kids when they’re facing life-altering decisions: “Do the math!”

Enjoying isosceles living,

~ Kim

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch…

Living The Dream

I can’t tell you how glad I am to be home. (Or, maybe I did already.) If so, sorry for the repetition. It’s just that I’m acutely aware of the contentment, relief, and multitudinous blessings that the Universe has continued to dole out since my arrival here last month — without asking.

Pinch me.

Maybe it was that lil’ side table that recently arrived from Jaipur…

Jaipur Coffee Table

I’ve since remanded it to my Garden Room (aka “office”) because it didn’t afford adequate space for cocktails and remotes and whatnot in the living room as my beloved & I attempted to re-acclimate to our long-neglected “mutual space” while we got used to each other once again. (Such is life.)

Plus… feeling selfish, but entirely blessed… I love it so.

That, and it needed some green to offset its rich, dark brown hues. (See it there on the left?) Apologies for the lighting. Every day is an adventure at the lake.

Garden Room update

I still have to break out the paint to transform that bench on the far side of the room to the glory I once envisioned. (Tangerine? It may end up paprika!) Or, as the Monet I dreamed of painting in my Music Room long ago… which has since been converted to a “Tool Room.” My hubby gets to play, too! (We miss our garage.)

In the meantime, I’m relishing creative license — revising dreams daily — and going with the flow.

I wish you the same… and some mighty tasty vittles. (Sneak peek below.)

When life — or your surroundings — or painting projects — don’t work out as planned, feed your soul. Enjoy every bite and every spontaneous revision along the way. It’ll work out eventually!

You’ll know when it’s “just right.”

And you’ll be glad you waited. (Or changed your plans.)

Enjoying flux,

~ Kim

Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ May 2016

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In My Kitchen is a slightly wilted bouquet from my beloved, presented upon my arrival HOME over a week ago! (I try to make blessings last as long as possible.)

It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I can attest to that truth, especially after being away from hearth, home, hubby, and you (not necessarily in that order) for 3-1/2 months while I took care of my Mom in Minnesota. There was a lot to attend to — moving Mom to an assisted living apartment, cleaning and downsizing her home (60 years’ worth of “memorabilia”), and ultimately bringing part of it home to sort at my leisure… which is why my kitchen currently looks like this. (Sorry for the lighting; we’ve had a few storms blow through.)

But, that batch of chocolate chip cookie dough lurking between the “rubble” and the pile of dishes on the far side of my sink attest to the fact that I’m finally cooking and baking again, yay!

Kitchen Sweet Kitchen

In My Kitchen… is tilapia en papillote seasoned with Old Bay, freshly ground black pepper, tarragon, Vidalia onions, lemon slices, black olives, and capers, nestled on a bed of asparagus and julienned carrots. My grown-up “Happy Meal!”

It feels so good to cook again.

(And eat.)

Springtime Happy Meal

In My Kitchen… is a vintage cookie jar (rescued from the dusty recesses of a hutch at my Mom’s — I haven’t seen that thing since I was a kid) to store The Man Of Few Word’s treats in.

He even called it a real cookie jar — nice that he “noticed!”

And I obviously got that batch of cookies made. :)

Cookie Jar

Looking forward to perusing your kitchens, in between “sorting” and unpacking. Many thanks to Maureen at Orgasmic Chef for hostessing this monthly gathering of kitchen goodies world-wide. If you’d like to participate (or ogle), head over to her link above. It’s a LOT of fun and I’ve been sorely missing it — and you!

Enjoying week-old bouquets and being back In My Kitchen again,

~ Kim

Cornered

Cornered

The junction of two walls can get old in a hurry.

I know this because I spent much of my childhood sequestered in a little wooden rocking chair — a miniature of the ones you see scattered across front porches in the South — facing the corner for being “naughty.” Although I don’t recall specific infractions that led to my frequent incarceration (or if it was simply a means to keep a curious and evidently willful child out of Mom’s hair — I believe the current vernacular and behavior modification technique is called a “time out”), the experience was made mercifully less lonely with books.

With a Little Golden book in my hands, solitary confinement wasn’t too bad. It occupied my mind, passed the time, and fostered my love of reading. It also catapulted my imagination to places much more interesting and entertaining.

I’m resolved never to face a boring corner again!

Recently I decided to spruce up a few ho-hum corners in our home with some thrift store finds for visual interest. Books find their way into my corners, too — beloved companions during solitary stretches, albeit self-imposed this time.

And speaking of resolve… mid-January the time of year when many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, which is why I gave them up a long time ago. How are yours coming along? If you’re still on course, good for you. If not…

Don’t get stuck in a corner!

Life (and corners) can be as perfunctory — or playful — as you want them to be. Feel free to rearrange.

Enjoying colorful corners in 2016,

~ Kim