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!

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Enjoying untold blessings — savoring each & every one,

~ Kim

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

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

The Big Reveal

Bourbon Drizzle
Bourbon Drizzle from “Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport For Adventurous Palates”

For months I’ve been hinting about a project I’ve been working on, and here ’tis at last.

Every once in awhile you run across somebody who inspires you to look at life differently. Someone who makes you giddy considering the possibilities in front of you. An instigator… an energizing spirit… an innovative foodie… a kindred soul!

Ladies and gents, if you haven’t already had the pleasure of meeting Ally Phillips, I’m tickled to introduce her to ya…

Ally

Ally entered blog world a few years ago, and since then she’s been off and runnin’ — cooking, creating, capturing mouthwatering photos, competing in contests (and winning!) — not to mention writing a one-of-a-kind cookbook.

When this cohort in cooking-dom asked if I’d be willing to edit it last year, I didn’t have to think twice before saying YES. The prospect of combining my love of the King’s English with her unparalleled savvy in the kitchen, sensational stories spanning the globe, and innate sense of adventure was meant to be! Plus I’ve always wanted to work at home in my jammies. ;)

Bonus points for getting a first-peek at Ally’s scrumptious recipes, too! Here’s the Croatian Potato Salad I made for dinner the other night. OH MY!!!

To see what other folks are saying about Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport for Adventurous Palates, check out the “Blog Tour” (May 1-28) here. 

And, for a brief (3 minute) FUN video about the cookbook click here.

Life’s been good ~ blessed ~ and “boholicious” every day! (Thanks, Ally, xo.)

Enjoying multi-talented friends ~ and words,

~ Kim

Kitchen Therapy

Baked Flounder 2

Baked Flounder with Portobello Duxelle, Sauteed Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Y’all were probably wondering if I cook anymore…

Truth is I do and fact is: cooking has taken on an even greater role at present.

I call it: Kitchen Therapy.

The dish pictured above was the product of both hands working together in conjunction with my brain (no small feat, as you’ll soon find out) — the smaller the dice, the more difficult it is — but I was craving a Duxelle to go with with some flounder fillets, so I persevered. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two weeks ago I had a stroke. Yup. A stroke. (A ‘slight one’ per the Doc.) All I knew was that my left leg wasn’t cooperating (a funky feeling), my left arm hung limply at my side, and my left hand was completely unresponsive. Not good! Basically, it put the “kibosh” on everything, especially in the kitchen. (And at my piano… sigh.)

First, you ought to know I’m not an ‘anxious person’ — I take life (and limb) as it comes. No sweat! (Or at least I hope that’s the general impression you’ve gotten from this lil’ ol’ blog o’mine.)

Second, y’all know me… living & loving at the lake, and all that. Could life be anymore relaxed?!

Boots & Blue

This event came out of the blue — in the middle of the night, I might add — as do many of life’s unexpected events. I simply woke up and thought, “Well, this is a new one!”

In the subsequent weeks I’ve relied heavily on the millions+ prayers from friends and family, and I’m delighted to report they’re working. After a prayer session at church last Sunday, my fingers began to move (hallelujah, praise God!) and within two days, I was back at choir rehearsal playing the piano… something I couldn’t have even imagined doing the week before. (And I have a BIG imagination.)

Whatever your beliefs are, I’m telling you, “faith and hope yield fantastic, miraculous results… not to mention fantastic food, if ya just stick with it.

Flounder with Duxelle, Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Flounder with Portobello Duxelle

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 large onion, finely diced

Sprinkle of salt (I used Himalayan Pink)

8 oz. portobello mushrooms (gills removed), finely diced

4 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

2 flounder fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Heat butter & olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions; sprinkle with salt. “Sweat” until translucent (stir occasionally to avoid browning.) Increase heat to medium-high. Add the diced mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid.

Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Cook until liquid(s) evaporate. Season to taste with salt, pepper, & nutmeg.

Spoon half of the duxelle into a buttered baking dish (I used a small glass loaf pan) and top with the flounder fillets. Spoon remaining duxelle over the top.

Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

(I served mine with rice and greens, but a salad & bread sticks would be lovely, too.)

Last year I said October is a cataclysmic month for me. This year’s no exception.

Autumn at the Lake

Enjoying life and limb(s) at the lake ,

~ Kim

Running Away From Home

Rockies

Between the last post and this one I ran away from home.

Bear in mind, I’m not an advocate of running away from home (nor life) and there was much more involved in this impromptu foray than tying a makeshift hobo bag on the end of a stick, slinging it over my shoulder, and taking off for the wild blue yonder.

Let’s just say it was a realignment of my life…

A much needed one.

On the heels of the ‘mysterious cookbook project’ I’ve been editing since last Spring (more on that in a post or two!) and despite the contented musings in my last post, the same ol’ same ol’ was becoming all too familiar.

Don’t get me wrong! I love editing and I’m at peace with my Sis’s sudden passing. And, life on the lake with TMOFW is still wonderful… but… I was beginning to feel “at my wit’s end.” It was time to do something off the wall.

Different. Spontaneous. Grown-up girl.

And just plain fun!

After submitting my last-minute RSVP to Google+’s VIPCON2014/Denver HIRL (Video In Person Conference/Hangout In Real Life), I packed up the Jeep and hit the road. Truthfully, it was the first long trip I’ve taken by myself in 15 years… other than “the trucking years,” of course!

For three glorious days and nights, I hung out with online buddies I’d only hoped to meet ‘someday,’ visited with folks I’d never met in person until then, and parted as lifelong friends with all of them. We laughed uproariously, cooked, danced, sang songs, sampled complimentary cocktails and wine from our sponsors, cooked some more, and talked into the wee hours of the morning. Basically it was an ongoing slumber party… er, business meeting. (Who says business can’t be FUN?!)

Wood fire pizza oven at All American Johnny's Pizza Grill

My first night in Denver began with dinner at a wood fire pizza grill — All American Johnny’s. (Why I didn’t take a photo of my ‘customized’ pizza made with the tastiest gluten-free crust I’ve eaten to date, topped with house-made San Marzano tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, wild mushrooms, freshly-made Mozzarella, and spicy Italian sausage is beyond me.) Yup. I ate the evidence.

Also included in the event were a tour of the Breckenridge Brewery which I missed out on due to an unexpected travel delay, but they saved a T-shirt for me — (thanks!) — plus a tour of the Spring 44 distillery in Loveland. Good spirits abounded!

Did I mention cooking?

Chef Larry Fournillier whipped up his amazing Shrimp Stir Fry with Fried Rice one evening (swoon), Shelley Pierce made her fabulous bhindi Masala (again no photo, but soooo appreciatively savored), and Wayne & Dawn Nix shared their Louisiana-famous Gumbo, much to my taste-tester’s delight! (FYI, click on the blue links for visuals. ;)

There was also a ‘live’ HOA (Hangout On Air) featuring the lovely Azlin Bloor, who made Smoked Salmon Fish Curry. Oh my… it’s on my must make list! (And please pardon my ‘deer in the headlights’ gaze… there’s a first time for everything. LOL!)

I was so inspired I decided to stretch my culinary wings. Pictured below are some of the dishes I threw together (made possible with much appreciated assistance from ‘sous chefs’ extraordinaire, Larry and Debi) ~~ Pepper Steak & Eggs, Oven Baked Cinnamon Swirl French Toast, and a Lingonberry Reduction made with Spring 44’s Honey Vodka. Mmmmm…

After the VIPCON 2014/Denver HIRL (thanks for your generous-hearted hospitality, Hermine!) I stayed an extra couple of days with Debi Davis — couldn’t bear to leave — and Debi was gracious enough to open her home (and fridge) — to me.

More cooking & revelry ensued!

Here’s one last peek at “running away from home.” Such fun! (Thank you for letting us crash your kitchen two nights in a row, Mia Voss — hugs to Greg, too.) And, thanks, Halter Ranch vineyard and Tangent Wines. Exceptional sipping!

On the way home (all good things must come to an end…) I stopped in Trinidad, Colorado before making the final trek. Here’s the view from my hotel room…

Room with a View

And this was dinner ala room service. Ahhhhh….

Salmon Salad

When all was said and done (including driving 12 hours the next day to get back for choir rehearsal that night), I felt uplifted and entirely prepared to dive into life… and ready to be me again.

(Not that I wasn’t before — just a ‘subdued’ version of me.)

Plus, I was met with these upon my arrival…

Roses from Russ 1

When you celebrate life — when you celebrate YOU (!) — folks just naturally celebrate with you.

(You don’t even need to run away from home.)

Celebrate you today. xo

Enjoying real life revelations,

~ Kim

A Fresh Start

Fresh Start

The amazing thing about life is that every day is an opportunity to start fresh.

Even though the past tags along as part and parcel of who I am, I’m not bound to live like I did yesterday, nor am I one to dwell on it.

Certainly a little evaluation or introspection is involved before leaping into today — what worked vs. what didn’t — but that thought process lasts about as long as my first cup of coffee. Life goes on and I want to be part of it asap.

Gratitude also aids and abets forward motion. It’s impossible to be grumpy and grateful simultaneously. Choose grateful.

On August 17th my Sweet Sis, Laurie, died unexpectedly after an aneurysm on her heart burst. It was an undetectable anomaly, a quirk, a fluke — and evidence that ‘you never know when.’ (She was riding her Harley at the time.) Such was my Sis.

During the past two weeks I witnessed what a huge impact one life can have on others. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members, classmates, fellow-bikers, and more came forward to express their grief and joy, and I marveled at how ‘famous’ my sister’s smiles and hugs had become.

In a way, it didn’t surprise me. When you make up your mind to be a blessing, the ripple effect spreads far and wide. Each and every one of us has the potential to create a ripple and none of our actions are insignificant. What we “do” today influences life… and lives.

For me, that means a renewed sense of purpose. Vigorous and vibrant living. Making the most of moments. Helping somebody else. A fresh start every morning.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have experienced the wonder of my one & only Sis — and you. She would have loved you all.

Enjoying fresh starts,
~Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch