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,”


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 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


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,

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Still Waters Run Deep

Still Waters

Sometimes this space doesn’t accurately reflect the amount (or variety) of “writing, music, and photography” I actually do. (Or my love for long sentences…) My clipboard, college-ruled notebook paper, and favorite pen are constant companions — not to mention my camera — along with a stash of notebooks dedicated to ideas, to-do lists, poetry, musings, letter-writing, scribbling, and attempts at journaling. (My piano is also mere steps away.) Not so coincidentally, the aforementioned notebooks are color-coordinated and/or have hand-picked covers to match my wordy moods… writers are entitled to their quirks.

Currently I’m editing an amazing cookbook (more on that in a future post); last week I jammed with my fiddle-playin’ buddy, Joe, twice (we’re also playing for a cancer fund-raiser this weekend); and I was recently humbled and honored to have one of my photos published in an esteemed international literary journal. There’s often more going on in my life than meets the eye — or blog — and I apologize for my frequent lapses.

One of my ongoing writing projects — my “Dear Friends” letters — began over a decade ago. I was employed as a church secretary and each week I’d mail copies of Sunday’s sermon to ten or twelve elderly ‘shut-ins’ or folks who couldn’t attend church. (I’d also include a handwritten note of encouragement, but a sentence or two quickly became a paragraph or two, and finally a page — or two.)

When my tenure was done, I couldn’t help but keep writing to my Dear Friends (some of them tell me it’s the only letter they receive) and through the years my ‘list’ has grown from the original dozen to over 50 folks around the U.S. — often at the request of loved ones: “Mother so enjoys your letters… would you please keep sending them… and could you send one to my Aunt?”

What began as a simple act of kindness through ‘writing’ evolved into a passion for keeping the art of correspondence alive and well.

I used to write my Dear Friends letters by hand (back when I only wrote 10 or 12), but due to the increased volume I finally had to resort to a computerized version — which turned out to be easier for everybody over age 70 to read — my penmanship is nearly microscopic. Did you know it’s easier for the aging eye to discern Sans Serif fonts than Times New Roman? (I do my research.) That aside, I still insist on addressing every envelope by hand and signing each letter personally… and, I often include a handwritten note of encouragement.

Frequency-wise, my letter writing has slowed down a lil’ since moving to the lake, not counting the ones I regularly pen to my family (gotta have ‘deck time,’ not that I need an excuse!) — it’s just that I don’t have as much to write about as I did during the “trucking years.” What used to be an every-other-week travelogue gradually reduced itself to a life-on-the-lake update once a month — then every other month — and now four or five times a year.

Rather than regale you with further ‘hows’ and whys, here’s a (slightly revised) version of the latest edition:

Canoe 2

“God blesses us with His presence in so many ways, from the tiniest miraculous garden sprout to a sky-full of majestic panorama…”

In between, it’s the ordinary moments that bless us: simple things like food on the table, a roof over our heads, a better-than-usual cup of coffee, and the comforts of home. Day to day ‘ordinary’ gives us a deeper appreciation for the extraordinary.

This past Fourth of July, Russ and I opted to stay ‘home for the holidays.’ (Our usual modus operandi involves packing up the Jeep with a week’s worth of clothing and food, driving 24 hours up & back, and shuttling between our families in southern Minnesota.) This year our plan — or rather God’s plan — was to stay put! After the years we spent over-the-road (a transient ‘home’ at best), it was glorious to wake up in our own bed.

Ironically, we both woke up at 3:30 a.m. — don’t ask me why. But, it wasn’t too far off from our usual 4:30 a.m. start to the day, and the coffee and companionship made up for our lack of sleep. Of course, we were missing our families! Sometimes you have to make ‘the hard decision,’ but we knew in our hearts God meant this one just for ‘us.’

Once the sun got up over the hill, it became apparent that it was an ideal morning for canoeing. Earlier this year we’d acquired an ol’ ancient canoe full of dents and patches (still seaworthy in spite of its forlorn appearance) and this was the first time we’d ever taken it out on the lake together. It didn’t take long for us to resume our mutual cadence — Russ at the stern, me at the bow — slicing our oars through the water as though we’d been canoeing every day, instead of for the first time in almost a decade.

We paddled about two-thirds of the way across the lake, then let a light breeze turn the canoe so it drifted slowly back toward the bluff, and Russ spent the entire time casting and ‘trolling’ (of sorts) while I alternately closed my eyes and basked in the sun or scanned the scenic shoreline. (“Don’t ask me why” #2 — I didn’t get my fishing license this year, so I didn’t have my pole along.) Somehow I suspect we might have fared better fish-wise with two hooks in the water instead of one, yet I was content to observe — and he caught a keeper.

Russ has such a natural grace about him when he’s fishing. The way he holds his fishing rod and the rhythmic way he reels in or ‘jigs’ borders on art! I derived more satisfaction out of watching him ‘at work’ than if I’d been handling a pole myself. (My attempts at fishing usually involve hooking every ‘snag,’ tipping over the tackle box, and spending more time with my hook out of the water than in to replace lost lures…)

After we reached the ‘driftwood trees’ in front of the bluff, we paddled between those massive petrified ‘ghosts of a forest’ from days gone by. Their weathered trunks and branches are much larger than they appear from our deck and I enjoyed getting ‘up close and personal’ with them. They must have hundreds of stories to tell — in fact, they do! Dozens of fishing line remnants dangle from their gnarled, silver-gray grip where anglers have lost their lures. (Made me smile; at least “I’m not the only one.”)

An added bonus was seeing the Great Blue Herons perched on random stumps. Slipping by in the canoe with no motor to startle them, we got close enough to see just how large those majestic birds truly are. Numerous cranes also glided back and forth to wherever a beak-sized breakfast could be found as their white wings blazed in the sun against a backdrop of aquamarine lake and azure sky.

Not quite ready to go in, we paddled westward along the rugged shoreline. The wind picked up a bit (not enough to swamp the canoe) so we paddled to the next bay and back — about an hour ‘by water.’ Just then, a bald eagle suddenly took flight, soaring above the treetops in singular, spectacular glory. Moments like those make your senses come alive… seeing that regal bird leading the way overhead, feeling the steady strokes of our paddles, hearing the rippling water caressing the canoe. It wasn’t just a blessing, it was a hug from God!

Our other senses were blessed, too — following this adventure, I grilled some mighty-good-smelling burgers and topped ’em with tomatoes right out of the garden. (You just can’t beat that ‘fresh tomato taste’ on a sizzling burger!) It was a wonderful holiday for both of us.

Sometimes I think Jeremiah 29:11 has become ‘popular’ because of the “implied” blessings in the NIV translation (no disrespect intended) and our inflated expectations of what they might be. Per the King James version (vs. 11-13), there’s more involved than God simply doling out His goodness and grace. He does intend to bless us, and He will — when we seek Him with all our heart.

I’ve come to believe that God’s greatest blessings are His peace and presence. They turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

Enjoying doing what I do,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch