Fun At The Lake

Similar to Seinfeld’s hit show this may appear to be about “nothing”, but it means the world to me. Plus, I had FUN playing with some new blog themes thanks to WP. (Still undecided… what do you think?) Although it’s slightly less photogenic — being a photographer ‘n’ all — my images show up sooner or later and it was time for a change.

Today I tackled the Tool Room. After our house/garage fire a few years back we were blessed with a three bedroom abode and I envisioned this as a music room… writing room… respite to view the lake. (NOT!) Wish I’d taken “before” pictures, but life goes on and I’m patient. And, The Man Of Few Words helped.

After sorting through accumulated nuts and bolts (hopefully in a somewhat coherent manner) and wading around “future projects on the floor” I transformed it into this:

The long-neglected “jelly cupboard” (circa 1950’s) from my folks’ basement, which my son loaded into my U-Haul at the last minute as a surprise back in in 2016, acquired a primer coat of paint to cover up my late brother’s artistry with spray paint before he customized his Cuda (you can still see a blotch on the left door… oh well) and I moved a few things into an adjacent closet, threw a sisal rug down on the floor, and  as the ol’ adage goes: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Life is much simpler when that happens. (FYI, it doesn’t just “happen”… DO it!)

I still have a few finishing touches to implement. Grey paint on the floor. Perhaps a Monet on the wall? Overall, it’s progressing. (And my hubby can still find his tools.)

Most of the above was a blessing from the church thrift store (how ’bout that antique anchor shelf to hold my hubby’s fishing lures and filet knife?!), gifts from friends. and/or Amazon discount deals. (Soooo grateful.) Meanwhile I’ve been having FUN making the best use of our space even if it involves re-doing the Tool Room — or putting up with bright blue carpeting in our guest room. Sometimes ya make do. But, it matches the lake for now. Someday…

Wishing all of you a very Happy Easter. Hope you like what I’ve done with the place!

Enjoying life and FUN in progress,

~ Kim

P.S. Tell me what you think of my new blog format. I’m gradually transitioning into writing and trying to be mindful of my words.

In My Kitchen ~ Spring 2019

In My Kitchen… this salad was SO tasty I want to eat it again soon. A new restaurant opened nearby and everybody raved about their food. Of course I had to go see for myself to “read their menu” (aka: I was hungry and ready for someone else to cook for me) but lately my dining out adventures have been limited by my food allergies. (Hold the croutons and cheese, please!)

Imagine my surprise and delight to find a perfectly grilled salmon filet atop a bed of crisp greens, red pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and black beans accompanied by a wonderful lime vinaigrette. The first thing I said after I got home was: “They sure know how to make a vinaigrette!” (So does Chef Mimi — more below.)

In the meantime I was thrilled to find a local eatery that respects my limitations. (More on that below, too.)

In My Kitchen… I’m ready to dive into Spring and yet another salad: Chef Mimi’s “favorite.” Yes, I realize that favorite recipes are subjective and oft relegated to the dubious best-ever category, but her sense of flavor and texture are spot on in my experience. Her recipe also included ingredients I had on hand, except for the red cabbage. I sorted that out of a “coleslaw kit” before I served it to The Man Of Few Words for supper. (Call it hands-on cooking — I’ve resorted to it more times than I can count when our local grocery store was out of a particular ingredient — and two meals out of one ain’t bad.)

FYI, I also substituted brown rice for the barley. Mimi said that was okay — use whatever combination works for you. DO try her vinaigrette though. It was tantalizing! Still enjoying the rest on spinach salads and such.

Click on the link above for her recipe.

In My Kitchen… my cousin Jeanne and her husband Ken (who’ve hosted me on my many treks to Minnesota) arrived for an overnight stay. She presented me with some “bowl cozies” to keep our soup and cereal  warm (or cold) courtesy of her quilting scraps, and a crocheted potholder, too. What a treat to be the recipient of such handmade love! We enjoyed catching up on the deck and munching on appetizers in front of the lake before I served supper. Thank you, xo!

In My Kitchen… is an Irish Apple Cake I’ve made many times. NOTE: the original recipe may have included a lil’ Irish (whisky instead of vanilla) but it’s just as good without the “heritage.” The crunchy top layer is a lovely prelude to the moist, spice-laden cake below and it keeps well and freezes well, too.

Irish Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of my friend, Denise W.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla (or whisky…)

2 c. diced peeled Granny Smith apples

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used less because mine was freshly grated)

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8″ square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat again. Add apples and nuts.

Combine dry ingredients; mix in with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (TMOFW says it’s “just right” plain. :)

Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings has more In My Kitchen adventures to connect your global hearts and kitchens ever since she took over from her predecessors — Celia, Maureen, and Liz. I’m grateful to all of them for the FUN and friendship — not to mention helping re-establish my kitchen four years ago — but, having said that…

I’ve finally decided that IMK fits best into my life quarterly rather than monthly. Welcome to the Spring edition! For now I have everything I need. It’s also Autumn “Down Under” (where Sherry hails from, as do many of the participants), but Spring has sprung here — and in my heart. I’ve put off too many writing deadlines during the past five years and hopefully you can see how colorful my life has become now. It’s time to make that leap of faith…

Whether you’re looking for food, flavor inspirations, or the latest kitchen gadgets, IMK is a reliable source. Thank you all! As for me, I’ll be back with more thoughts soon. Maybe in a letter? Meanwhile enjoy this glimpse of my surroundings, xo.

Enjoying salads, writing, and possibilities,

~ Kim

Extraordinary Evenings

Every day that ends with a sense of contentment is a good day whether I accomplish anything or not. Sunsets seem to affirm that. (We’re here to witness, share, and be, folks — not just “do”.) I grew up ingrained with a “doing” mindset and my self-worth was often measured by how much I got done. It’s taken me decades to get past that primordial training. Last year I put my life on hold to take care of my family, and as a result, I put The Man Of Few Words (“our” life… my life?) on hold for over six months, took an unpaid leave of absence from my job, and contended with limited cell phone signal,  almost no internet (save for my son’s tablet), and a Minnesota winter.

I was a mess when I got home.

It’s taken almost a year to regain my sense of “self”, feel the slightest modicum of creativity, and forge ahead with “my” life — or at least what I formerly envisioned it to be — while handling ongoing phone calls, daily crises, paperwork, and myriad “to-do’s” once I got home. Old habits die hard and fatigue can play funny tricks on your brain — not to mention sap your strength and leave you feeling hopeless.

Yet, I don’t.

Every day back at the lake is a stellar day… followed by an extraordinary evening. (Even when I don’t do a gosh darn thing!) Sometimes I just need to absorb it all. Contentment reigns.

During your tenure on the planet you’ll oft be presented with challenges you don’t feel qualified to face. “Buck up, buttercup” and face ’em anyway! There’s a lesson to be learned and life goes on. Things will gradually become sharper and clearer, even if you’ve had to put you (and/or your “envisioned” life on hold for unprecedented/unanticipated lengthy stretches and you question every decision.) Eventually, it will all make sense, Or, as TMOFW has oft encouraged me (while I wondered aloud about my sanity and ability): “When God wants you to be doing something else, He’ll let you know.” In the meantime, it’s segueing gently between my obligations and my dreams… being aware… and taking care of myself. (Even if it’s just looking at a sunset.)

As if to say “amen” to that thought, my poetic friend j.i. kleinberg recently published this poem entitled The Evening.

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ The Evening

After “all of the above”, this is how my life has been lately… halfway between my dreams and reality… with a lot of “blue” up for consideration.

Enjoying re-configuring life at the lake,

~ Kim

Beaded Beginnings

Hippie Beads 2

I grew up in the era of groovy. Far out. All righhht! The 1960’s.

But, on a small farm in rural Minnesota, love beads were a lil’ hard to come by.

So, I watched. Waited. Collected ideas. Five decades later, my creative space is finally starting to look like my dream.

Hippie Beads 3

Recently I began volunteering at our church’s Mission Store a few days a week, where the proceeds fund our food pantry. (I’ve always had a heart for feeding folks, be it from the quickly depleted shelves there or my own kitchen — every hour standing behind the check-out counter or my stove makes a difference in someone’s life.)

BTW, check-out clerks are allowed to “shop” during lulls and you never know what might show up in the donation bin. Last week it was Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume Two for 50¢.

This week it was groovy.

I spied the miscellaneous bag of beads when I walked in and immediately recognized their former glory and potential. (My dream!) Nobody paid attention to them for hours, so I watched. Waited. (Until my break.) Snapped them up and hung them up at home!

TMOFW smiles at my ongoing Boho notions.

Speaking of which… my friend Ally offers tons of inspiration and encouragement re: living the life you’ve dreamed of on her website and in her VRAI inaugural e-magazine. Plus, she’s hostessing a custom Boho jewelry give-away. Such fun! As she’s oft said: “Dreams have no expiration date.”

Yes ma’am, gal pal. Don’t I know? :)

Enjoying groovy dreams come true,

~ Kim

Rainy Days & Mondays

Todays forecast and reality

Life doesn’t always go as planned. The recent incident in Virginia was evidence of that (which makes this paltry lil’ post seem inconsequential), but it’s true. Every day we’re faced with situations beyond our control. Sometimes they’re the result of our own doing and/or decisions, but more often than not they’re the result of senseless acts — or “life.” How we respond to those events is key.

My plans this past weekend included watching the Perseid meteor showers (ditto on inconsequential…), but we had ten inches of rain with thousands of lightning bolts thrown in for good measure. Clear skies were not in the plan. (Here’s a link to The Carpenters’ song for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, or with my post title.) Contrary to the lyrics, I don’t let Rainy Days & Mondays — or “life” — get me down. In fact, my favorite line from the song is “Run and find the one who loves you.”  Great advice.

I believe those who perished or were injured in that senseless attack were loved by folks “who ran to find them” — or vice versa. Life is too short and unpredictable not to LOVE others and let them know it. Like them, Karen Carpenter experienced an untimely demise — a brief flicker of hope intended to bless the cosmos — cut short by other’s opinions or actions. (She died of anorexia.) Who will YOU listen to? Who will YOU love and “let know it?” Every day you’re given an opportunity to shine!

Recently I watched the movie Shine (re: pianist David Helfgott) and remembered why I cried the first time I saw it. So much potential, so much damage inflicted! Whether loss of life — or talent — world events seem to be repeating that trend. While we can’t control the senselessness, we can rise above it — gradually, gracefully, and gratefully. How could we possibly be grateful for any of it? Because someone cared enough to show up for what they believed in, no matter how briefly. And, love prevails.

By the way, I did get to witness one ‘beaut’ of a meteor at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning before the cloud cover took over — a shimmering ball of fire that streaked across the lake. Keep an eye out for brief but brilliant shining stars. Their impact is eternal.

You can shine, too, whenever and however you decide to participate. Show up! Do YOUR thing and do it because you can — and because you love doing it. Make the most of your time on this planet and share your experiences. Don’t let differing opinions (or “life”) deter you from pursuing your path. You never know when you (or your existence and commitment) will be a blessing to everybody.

That said, here’s a sunnier view of my “writer-ly attire” (most days.) Dance with LIFE — even when it doesn’t turn out as planned.

Sunshine Shadows and A Sneak Peek at my Daily Attire

Enjoying celebrating those who show us “how it’s done” with grace,

~ Kim

Time For A New Direction

Time for a New Direction

Much as I like it or not, life has been pulling me in differing directions. (Such is the curse of numerous interests and/or obligations.) It’s time to narrow down my repertoire a bit.

I’ve had my way with words — or they’ve had their way with me — for nigh on a 10th of my life in this forum. Somewhere along the line I discarded my love for “long sentences”. That’s not a bad thing, mind you; it suits my original vision for brevity and it doesn’t take up too much of your time or mine. (I don’t have any aspirations to become the next Faulkner.) But, I’ve been yearning to write more than three lines between photos and often I edit my thoughts to fit.

That ain’t right.

This past year involved so much care-taking that I almost forgot how to take care of “me”. I put myself on the proverbial back burner. (And frankly, I’ve been stewing more than simmering.) It’s time for a new direction.

I can’t change the course of life’s “events”, but I can take time… make time… to glance at my inner compass now and then, more frequently than I have. (Complete with props.)

When (and how) did I become so “direction-less?”

Unrelated aside: How many folks do you know who buy notebook paper before, during, and after “school sale” season?” Whether I’m at the Dollar Store, the grocery store, or “Boy Howdy” (gotta love Oklahoma) I’m on the look-out, and whenever I run across college-ruled notebook paper, I stock up. (I rue the day when narrow-lined went out of print, but I’ll take what I can get.) “Reading between the lines” seems to be getting wider by the day.

Thimble

This morning I thumbed through a book from a dear writer friend that echoed within my soul. It also begged for some “photo op” enhancement with Grandma’s thimble. (It’s not every day the right prop comes along.) While I was taking pictures, it occurred to me that I sometimes take my writing (and me) too seriously. A camera lens helps me to view life with more clarity. Less full of myself.

I have no clue how a little lunch may evolve in the coming months. I may only post a picture. (Y’all all know that ol’ adage…) But, whatever the future holds, it’s sure to be a definitive extension of me. Possibly even less wordy (we can hope). On a new tangent.

Enjoying discovering True North,

~ Kim

Any new directions in your life? Do tell!

Still Life

by-dawns-early-light

I love the early morning light as it filters in my kitchen window and illuminates evidence of a previous day well-lived or the promise of today’s possibilities!

Between my last post and this one I’ve been faced with yet another challenge: DON’T use it or lose it… contrary to the ol’ adage spurring us on to greater fitness and/or efficiency: “Use it or lose it.” Hello to another life-altering event, which hopefully I’ll overcome.

Basically I can’t use my left arm — or I won’t be able to for the rest of my life! Turns out, I’ve got bone spurs on two neck vertebrae pressing on my spinal cord (exacerbated by last month’s use and abuse) and anything “arms forward” aggravates it undeniably. Life has come to a standstill. Sit still. Still life…?

jan-2017-snow

I haven’t been able to write outside lately (obviously) thanks to our recent unprecedented snowfall (which thankfully disappeared), but it gave me pause for thought. Sometimes you have to go it alone. Endure the seasons in your life. Expect the unexpected. See the beauty in fleeting moments and appreciate ’em all. Accept your limitations and adapt!

I wrote this post on notebook paper on my clipboard whilst sitting in my recliner with a heating pad on my neck. (No piano playin’ today… limited time on either/or my piano and computer… thank goodness I can type fast!) But, that doesn’t mean life has to be limited, or bound by unchosen boundaries! I’ll continue to fit in whatever I can whenever I can and love the light… and still life.

jan-2017-snow-back-yard

Enjoying weathering changes at the lake, unprecedented or otherwise…

~ Kim