The Desk

I never imagined I’d fall for such a modern-looking desk to house my “creative space” (especially in a room I’ve been trying to make look cozy for two years), but with its full-length keyboard drawer and room for treasures on top (my monitor and printer included), I was smitten.

Nothin’ like combining the new with old. If that’s the story o’ your life, too, do tell!

I’ve come to relish unexpected blessings and spontaneously altered floor plans.

garden-room-aka-office-in-flux

Above is my Garden Room (aka office) in flux. Still a tad crowded, but it’s getting there.

My plan, my dream (neglected ’til now) involved moving things around a bit, but it’s coming closer to the vision of what I “want” it to be… HOPE it will be… some day.

The the rest is trial & error. And Trust. God works all things for good! (Romans 8:28)

One thing that’s made my seemingly impossible dream possible — besides moving furniture, ongoing prayer, and a huge dose of grace — was this recent purchase of art supplies to pursue yet another “creative dream.” (See some day above.)

More on that soon!

There’s still FOOD — yay, food! — even though I haven’t pulled out the ol’ Nikon as often as I once did. I make it a point to treat myself to something tasty every single day. (Once in awhile I’m even compelled to share a glimpse.)

walleye-1

Pan-seared Walleye & Caramelized Onions atop Spring mix salad lightly dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, Tuscan veggies, Quince preserves, & Moroccan olives

Enjoying moving forward ergonomically, artistically, musically, and TASTEFULLY!

~ Kim

Muted Magic

leaf

Autumn is oft noted for its splendor, breathtaking colors, and audacity (taunting the bleak black & white Season to follow), but it literally snuck up on me this year. Even though I had a brief encounter with Minnesota’s red, gold, and blaze orange glory earlier, I was relieved that Autumn arrived here subtly.

Softly…

(And a tad soggy.)

on-deck

While I was away, The Man Of Few Words (TMOFW) constructed a deck overlooking our backyard jungle. A new playground! (Or at least another place to think and write without being baked to a crisp; it’s still in the 90’s yet.) Shade is a blessing.

I’ve had very little control over my creative surroundings for much of this year and I’ve been longing for some Seasonal inspiration — without screaming for my attention. In my opinion, one of the greatest downfalls in this age of “immediacy” is the lack of mental space. Take time to ponder the Muted Magic surrounding you (whatever the Season).

All that’s required is noticing. Ahhhh…

Enjoying a lil’ breather,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ October 2016

ramekins-and-grater

In My Kitchen (at last) I’m HOME. (Hopefully for longer than I’ve been this year.)

My sister used to tease me that I liked anything “shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooooh, ahhhhh.” Guilty as charged. She and I amused many a shopkeeper with our audible admiration. “Shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooooh, ahhhhh” is FUN to say out loud… try it!

I do like baubles… In My Kitchen and otherwise. Especially when they combine form and function. Take this mini-grater (above) to zest citrus, shave grated cheese atop pasta & salads, and/or sliver garlic when I’m not in a “smashing” mood. (I’m soooo in need of TLC… so is my garlic.) You already know how I feel about ramekins., lol. :)  The more, the merrier!

antique-treasires

In My Kitchen… are antique treasures. (Grandma’s flour sifter, scoop, and the cutest lil’ salt & pepper shakers with their matching toothpick holder… not quite as “shiny” but I love their patina and memories.) Grandma had a mega-flour bin — a pull-out, tin-lined cupboard that accommodated a 50-pound bag of flour!

I loved watching her scoop “just the right amount” of flour (without measuring) and shaking her sifter to make homemade kolaches, cinnamon rolls, and bread.

As for the S & P shakers and toothpick holder, they were fixtures on her stove-top. Now, they’re fixtures on mine.

replacements

In My Kitchen are replacements… or rather, a flatware pattern that I liked so much thanks to a church friend who gifted us with a set of four after our fire (hate to bring that up again, but it’s been a reality I’m dealing with til 11/11/2016 when our insurance claim runs out.) Two years… can it be?! Basic utensils are overlooked.

I love ’em! (And my stove and fridge, thanks to YOU… gratitude and hugs.)

My culinary life, health, and HOPE wouldn’t be what it is without ’em!

In My Kitchen… are these aprons. Rick-racked trimmed ala Grandma. You have no idea how much these recent additions mean to me. (Or maybe you do.)

I’m SO grateful for replacements — “treasures” — IMK friends, xo! Hopin’ to get around to everybody’s posts in the next few days as time & unpacking allows.

Many thanks to Celia and Maureen (former hostesses of this monthly forum) and Liz, author of Good Things (our new hostess with the most-est) for sharing your immutable, affable IMK spirits as you adapt to LIFE. (Goodness, aren’t we all?) I love that about this place! Thanks for being “real.” If you’d like to read more IMK posts or share your own kitchen frolics, please contact Liz at the link above by the 10th.

Enjoying being In My Kitchen once again….

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ September 2016

In My Kitchen… I’m not in my kitchen.

Three weeks ago I was catapulted into care-taker mode again, and it’s likely I’ll be here equally as long or longer. (Sorry I can’t give any details, but I can tell you about the food.) Unfortunately I left in such an all-fired hurry that I forgot my camera!

Oh well… you know me and words. ;)

Today I made Wolfgang Puck’s Chicken Pot Pie. Imagine the slow-simmered aroma of chicken and veggies with a hint of thyme, graced with a glug of velvety heavy cream, topped with a butter-laden, Cheddar-studded crust that baked up SO golden King Midas would covet it. Oh my!

Then there was homemade pizza night. Pizza 1: Canadian bacon with diced fresh pineapple under a thick blanket of melted Mozzarella atop artisan herb flatbread. Pizza 2: Italian sausage, sliced Soppressata and grape tomatoes, torn fresh basil, and grated Pecorino Romano with garlic-herb goat cheese on a gluten-free crust. (That’d be mine, swoon…) BTW, I used Muir Glen Organic Tomato Herb Sauce on both (win/win) for lack of time to make my own.

Other tasty contenders were homemade sweet & sour pork with fried rice and “potato pancake” egg foo yung; whiskey & black pepper pork tenderloin with smashed Yukon gold potatoes; Gouda grilled cheese sandwiches; Windsor pork chops with mashed potatoes and creamed peas; cheese boards with fresh fruit, crackers & charcuterie, and repeated requests for poached eggs on toast.

Cooking has been therapeutic for all concerned. ;)

I’m looking forward to perusing more IMK escapades with photos on our hostess Maureen’s website following the summer hiatus. Come visit or join us by the 10th to discover a planet-full of kitchen fun! Home is where the heart (or stove) is, xo.

Enjoying cooking in temporary surroundings… again,

~ Kim

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