Fun Stuff

 

Life’s been in a bit of a lull lately (blessedly and gratefully so) and inspiration oft arrives when and where you least expect it.

This morning as I sat outside with my clipboard on my lap awaiting profound thoughts ;) I sipped on a cup of java listening to birdsong. I also had to grin at my “Crocs and sox” — me ‘n’ Mario Batali, woohoo!

Yup, I finally traded in my cowboy boots. (I do keep a pair at the ready for snake season… a different kind of “fun”… gotta love life at the lake.) Praise God for comfortable footwear and amenable places to “think thoughts.” Here’s the view I was contemplating.

The View

Speaking of “The View” (as seen on TV), its foodie counterpart is The Chew . I’m not a regular TV-watcher, but I do brake for cooking shows now and then.

A thousand pardons… I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Michael Symon. I’ve long admired him (his 1,000 mega-watt grin continues to light up my life) and the banter between him, Mario, and their affable cohorts — not to mention their incredible edible inspirations — are such fun!

Meanwhile, back outside…

My flower beds are finally weeded and the wildflower seeds are planted. Does anyone know what that vine is? I tend to err on the side of “purdy” vs. horticultural, thankfully without a rash so far. (Please let me know if it’s a weed!)

Other fun stuff: music and food.

I’m sorting through a plethora of recipes and regulating music rehearsals as we speak. These days I have to meter out my time and attention span. Balance is key.

Food and Music

Oopsie daisies! (Don’tcha love that line by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill?) I nearly forgot to include food photos. I’ve also been known to sputter similar meaningless aphorisms… “holy cow”, “what a hoot”, and “that’s hilarious.” C’est la vie! Never hesitate to express yourself, even if it sounds silly… make that fun. Your thoughts matter! I love ’em  all.

And you!

Enjoying a lil’ fun at the lake,

~ Kim

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

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

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

The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Flowergram VIII

Dogwood blossoms

(Hover over the photos for the full effect…)

Spring is in full bloom and it’s time for another Flowergram!

(Can’t tell you how good it felt to wander about at will again, ahhhhh…)

I feel like I’ve been playing catch up here forever and a day, but the truth is: there’s no catching up with right now. You’re either in it or you’re not.

Lavender

Lately I’ve been re-prioritizing things, or at least re-scheduling them. Sometimes my creative soul doesn’t want to be confined to a time slot, but it’s necessary for me to discern measurable progress. (Plus I don’t get a dang thing done — or at least the important ones — if I don’t!)

That means making time for regular exercise (did I just admit that in public?!!), enjoying the beauty & benefits of “small plates” (more on that in an upcoming post), getting back to writing on a regular schedule, and practicing the piano like I just got booked at Carnegie Hall! I’m giving another concert in less than a week, I had a dual speaking & musical engagement yesterday, and life has been an all around profusion of activity.

Last month, The Man of Few Word’s son (my step-son) moved in with us temporarily, and with two fellas needing to get to work at different times and places (with one vehicle), guess who’s been designated taxi driver? I run TMOFW to work at 5:30 a.m. (10 mile round trip), take my step-son to work at 7:30 a.m. (20 mile round trip), pick up TMOFW between noon and 4:00 (such fun not knowing “for sure” what time) and, as things turned out last week, had to make the final pick-up of the day at 4:00 (four days in a row) to get my step-son, too. (Whew!) Thankfully, all of that will change soon (if Mama ain’t happy… tee hee!) and normal life will resume shortly.

Please.

Speaking of “profusions”… here’s one of my favorites:

As for the writing part, I’m thrilled beyond words to have an official part-time, work-at-home job as an editorial assistant/copywriter on a BIG project. (Details are confidential as of yet, but I’m doin’ the happy dance!)

If a picture could describe my elation, it would be this “homegrown” contribution to my Flowergram…

Color me tickled pink — with a lil’ bit of purple for fun. ;)

Flowerbox

How will you spend the hours you’ve been given today… backtracking or living?

It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and as fragile and fleeting as Spring blossoms.

Never be “too busy” to do the things that make you happy!

Dogwood Tree

Enjoying re-prioritizing,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Rhapsody in Blue V

Feb 14 Sunrise 2014

This morning’s blue-tinged sunrise reminded me that I hadn’t penned a Rhapsody in Blue post in awhile. Here’s one of my favorites. While I realize Valentine’s Day has an entirely different color scheme (rife with flowers and heart-shaped boxes of candy), I gratefully accept treats of any sort, in any color.

Including these…

Olives

Last night The Man Of Few Words came home with his adorable boyish grin, two jars of olives, and an explanation: “I wasn’t sure if you could eat chocolate yet.” (Apparently, my recent gluten & dairy experimentation has made an impact on him.) Next year I may have to start waxing on about the merits of ‘high percentage’ quality chocolate and/or cocoa nibs in mid-January (lol), but truthfully, I thought it was the most thoughtful Valentine gift I ever received. Gotta love that man!

(A favorite photo from the archives… he keeps the home fires burnin’… and mine.)

End of The Day

Additional cause for today’s blue Valentine was the recent acquisition of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue!

Rhapsody in Blue

Several area thrift stores have “vintage” music bins and I could spend hours thumbing through them. (They just don’t write ’em like that anymore!) On this particular outing, I happened upon two versions of the same song. One was a simpler arrangement for the sheer joy of playing that gorgeous melody without having to ‘work’ at it…

RIB

And the other was a “concert level” rendition, which I aspire to play someday.

Be still, my heart…

As blue as this Valentine’s post may be, I hope it brought you JOY. (I’ll be smiling about those olives for at least another week!)

Here’s another glimpse of this morning’s beauty…

Valentines Day Sunrise

Wishing you a lovely, thoughtful Valentine’s Day. xo

Enjoying unconventional colors and gifts,

~ Kim

What’s the most memorable (or out of the ordinary) gift you ever received?