Beauty Among The Thorns

Beauty Among The Thorns

After the series of tornadoes that devastated the Oklahoma City area, it seemed appropriate to “celebrate” the long weekend with friends nearby.  (I miss my family 750 miles away…)  Hearts gathered and hearths welcomed.

Mindful was the unspoken word… mindful of those grieving the loss of loved ones… mindful of a kitchen to cook in and food to cook with… mindful that Nature can turn on a dime and make you feel thankful to be alive and grateful for every little thing.

I won’t regale you with my thoughts on the matter; instead I’ll post a few photos from this weekend that brought me joy and pray that my view of the world doesn’t seem trite.

Oriole at the Feeder I

Oriole at the Feeder

Oriole Nest in our front yard

Oriole Nest in our front yard

One of the highlights was the return of our lake neighbors.  (The non-bird variety!)  We renewed our friendship over an invitation for homemade beans & ham & corn bread at their home one evening, followed by brunch here the next day.  Hearty food seemed to be in order.  Souls as well as bodies needed nourishing.

My brunch menu consisted of a “breakfast bake” with ham, cheese, potatoes, and eggs (along with a second, smaller “bake” ala Kimby… crumbled bacon, green onions, and thickly sliced baby portabello mushrooms sauteed to golden goodness, nestled in a Dijon and nutmeg spiced custard), waffles with homemade butter-pecan syrup, plenty of strong coffee, and homemade biscuits courtesy of the aforementioned neighbor.

Afterwards, returning dishes and carrying leftovers was a mutual pleasure, especially when they pointed out the Mockingbird nest in a hedge at the edge of their drive.

I would have missed it if they hadn’t shown me!

Which brings me to surmise…

Mockingbird Nest & Eggs I

Home is where the heart is, even when your nest is temporary.

Hospitality takes on more importance in the wake of tragedy.

Hope (and beauty) can be found among the thorns.

Prickly Pear ready to bloom

Share something spectacular with someone you love today.  It can mean the difference between heartbreak… and joy.

Enjoying the blessing of perspective,

~ Kimby

Oppressive? On the contrary…

“O the times!  O the mores!”

(from Cicero’s oration in Catilinam)

One last observation I made before being forced from our home during the recent air conditioning malfunction was 01 on our thermostat.  “Ought 1.”  (Or “aught,”  if you insist on it.)  One-oh-one.  One hundred and one.  Obviously, we have a two-digit read out; similar to an odometer turning over, it simply showed “one”  (plus one hundred degrees) and I was too hot to object, or do more than photograph the onus for proof and posterity.

(By the way, that was indoors, not out.)  Ouch…

At one point, I was feeling considerably ornery and obtuse, but it occurred to me that I could overdo it and shuffle off this mortal coil if I loitered any longer.  Oh, no!  Perish the thought!  Oklahoma lover or not, I wasn’t going to risk mortality to prove I’m stubborn.  Time to proceed to cooler climes, post haste.

Speaking of which… other folks have opined on this topic (much more notably and eloquently than moi.)  In no particular order:

“We may achieve climate, but weather is thrust upon us.” ~ O. Henry

“Climate is theory.  Weather is a condition.” ~ Oliver Herford (who, not so coincidentally, signed his name O. Herford now and then.)

I love quotes.

My point in overstating the obvious (or perhaps it’s still oblivious..?) is that O packs a powerful punch in the chops (or thermostat) — enough to convince a body not to risk obliteration with continued folderol, as well as playing a (major) supportive role in most of the words in this post.

O…

Got it?

One of the things I adore about words is their extraordinary ability to convey two or more ideas in one forum.  (Love it!)  Allow me to proceed…  Oftentimes, we take our surroundings for granted.  (I’m talking about home, sweet home.)  My beloved and I only experienced a temporary blip — a minor inconvenience.  There are others much worse off.

Once I cooled my heels in our comfortable accommodations later on, my thoughts turned to those who’d recently lost their homes in the wildfires… or folks relocated by Hurricane Katrina… or the millions of people affected by tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters of epic proportions… or the displaced and/or disenfranchised souls whose permanent address is “homeless.”

They’re survivors.  I’m just a tourist in comparison.

Not to say that I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude when our obstacle turned out to be a one-day outing and our lives (and thermostat) returned to “normal” shortly thereafter.  Omen or opportunity?  I took it as a sign to express my opinion, even in the context of humor… to open my heart in an effort to touch yours.

However humble your home may be, you can offer something to someone less fortunate, be it a prayer or a drink of water or a dollar or simply greater compassion toward those “without.”  Collective caring may not change the world, but it just might change your world.

I’m hoping it will.

One final note:  Please don’t allow your ego to stop at “Oh.”  All it takes is one quick look around to notice somebody who needs you… and I implore you to DO something about it.  Thank you for having the courage to step outside of your comfort zone boundaries.

Okay, I’m done now.

Enjoying familiar surroundings following an eye-opening epiphany,

~ Kim

P.S.  Ordinarily, I don’t post twice in one day, but I’m confident you’ll rise to the occasion. :)  xO!

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A Quick Post and a Quick BBQ Sauce

Generally, I put a lot of time and thought into my posts, but our air conditioner quit at 4:00 this morning and the A/C guy isn’t here yet.

(In case you haven’t heard, Oklahoma’s temps have been in the 100’s for the past two months…)

Here’s what our inside temp reads now.

  (P.S.  It’s 10° “warmer” in my writing nook…)

Thankfully, I have a cool place to retreat to as soon as I’m done with this, and thankfully I planned a barbecue for dinner tonight.

Last night I made my Quick BBQ sauce and it was delish brushed over barbecued ham steaks.  (How does one spell BBQ correctly anyway?)

But patience, sweet ones, patience… it really is better the next day.

I also fooled around with my camera just for fun… :)

This is as basic as BBQ Sauce gets!

Quick BBQ Sauce

1/2 c. ketchup (I used Heinz)

3 Tbsp. honey

1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

(Optional add-in’s:  red pepper flakes to taste, a dash of hot sauce, a shot of whiskey)

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat; simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool, then store in the refrigerator.

Bring to room temperature before applying to grilled meats.

Brush sauce on during the last minutes of grilling and ENJOY!

Ooof… here’s what our temp was last time I looked, and it went up a degree after I uploaded the picture!

Enjoying the prospect of grilling… but not indoors…. gotta run!

~ Kim

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Cutting Board Tacos

1)  Take one insanely hot summer day and your basic taco fixin’s…

(Nothin’ fancy — just the basics — seasoned with this.)

(Allow me to zoom in a bit closer.)

2)  Assemble them on the nearest cutting board.

(Closer…)

3)  Add a lil’ sunshine and a fork.

(Clooooser…)

4)  Okay… a LOT of sunshine and a fork.

(There we go!)

5)  Think of winter and laugh.  Bwahahah!

(Apologies to my Southern hemisphere friends…)

Serve with a side of this and pull up a chair.

That’d be it. :)

Enjoying easy weeknight meals,

~ Kimby

What’s your favorite “beat the heat” meal?

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Coffee or Chocolate?

It’s no secret that my life revolves around two main ingredients… coffee and chocolate.  It’s also no secret that it’s better to give than to receive!

In celebration of my first blog birthday/anniversary/blogiversary, I’m delighted to give something to you.  (Well, at least two of you!)

But first, a word from our sponsor…

Brought to you by… Steel Daffodils Cottage & Garden.

My friend/shop-owner/barista, Tammy, offered to donate a bag of Oklahoma’s finest java to the cause.  (Thank you, Tammy!)  Perhaps you didn’t know Oklahoma is a purveryor of fine coffees?  Yup.  Custom-roasted right here in the Sooner State.

(Excuse me, I got so excited about the coffee, I couldn’t hold my camera straight!)

Or… maybe I need to become a decaffeinated connoisseur? :)  If decaf is your cup of tea (or coffee!) there’s “Homestead Coffee” whose motto is: “It’s good to settle down.”

Whether you choose Statehood, Cattledrive, or Homestead, it’s Oklahoma coffee!

And then there’s the other love of my life… chocolate in any way, shape, or form!

You may remember my birthday cake from this post.

Chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate!  Sigh.

So.. which do you prefer — coffee or chocolate?

(Two giveaway winners will receive one or the other!)

I’m leaning towards both… :)

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment below.  For an extra chance to win, please click “like” on the handy-dandy Facebook widget in my sidebar and say so, or tell me you’ve already “liked” me in your comment — no need to comment twice.  (Basically, one comment per person covers the whole she-bang.)  You may also comment on my Facebook page if you prefer.  Glad to see you at either place!

The winners will be picked out of a hat by The Man Of Few Words.  (Trust me, he’s impartial — and yes, I will write out two slips for every comment with a “like!”)  Winners will be notified the week of April 9th or as soon as humanly possible after the deadline.  Oh yeah, the deadline!  This giveaway ends at midnight CST April 9, 2012.

CONGRATULATIONS to Tina from flourtrader and Missy of Guns, Grub, and Other Goodies on winning the giveaway.  Thanks to all who entered!

That’s pretty much it, except to say thank you for a wonderful year!

Enjoying coffee AND chocolate,

~ Kim