Monday, August 8, 2011

A Long Monday Daybook. . .

Hydrangeas from the yard.

Outside My Window. . . 

The usual (as of late) completely grey sky. But the trend has been for grey to yield to sun by midday, and since today’s forecast is for sunshine and temperatures in the low 80’s, I assume the grey à sun pattern will continue.

I usually don’t hear much in the morning besides far-away traffic, the hum of the refrigerator, and maybe the singing of birds, but this morning started out rather cacophonously. I don’t know if the air was stiller than usual, but sounds seemed to carry right through my bedroom window. Very early this morning, when it was still dark, I could hear the neighbor calling for her cat in a sing-song voice: “Oreo?  Oreo. . .” as clearly as if my she was standing in my living room. Awhile later, the persistent shrill of a car alarm pierced the morning stillness, and it carried on for so long that I began to wonder if the owner of the car was away and we’d be forced to listen to that sound until their return at the end of the work day (I don’t know if these things eventually turn themselves off or not, but I suppose eventually a car battery will run out). 

 I don’t mind hearing the sounds of people talking, living their everyday lives, going to work, caring for their animals. In summer months in my Portland apartment two years ago, when it was hot and windows were open, I could so clearly hear the quiet conversations and movements of tenants in other apartments that it seemed someone was in my own apartment clinking in the kitchen or playing music or moving furniture. I remember lying in my bed (which was the couch, actually, in that little studio apartment) one very hot night, and the conversation and laughter coming from one particular apartment was louder than usual—not rude or obnoxious, but the sound simply carried well. I couldn’t fall asleep, and apparently, neither could others because I finally heard someone call softly and politely from another apartment: “Do you mind being a bit quieter or closing your window? We can’t sleep.” And just as softly came the reply: “Oh, we’re sorry. Yes, we’ll be quieter.” Then, “Thank you.” It was so polite. (So much for rude city people.) It felt so much like being in one big house right then that I had an urge to call out: “G’night, John Boy.”

I never mind the noise of children laughing and playing (when they are polite) or the sounds of people going about their business. Hearing evidence of everyday routines going on about me is actually kind of nice. 

I am Thankful. . . 

For an important meeting last week that went wonderfully well. It was not the kind of meeting one looks forward to, and the business being conducted was not anything anyone ever really wants to deal with, but God is good to me. He always goes before me, always provides, and always gives me a sense of His care and protection. This situation was no different.

I’m also deeply thankful for my children. How did they turn out to be so sweet, thoughtful, and kind?! I thank God for His grace and mercy to me and to my children as those poor kids were afflicted with such a mother! But I should be an encouragement to you! With all of our shortcomings and failings and wrong judgments as mothers (or parents), love truly does cover a multitude of sins. And honest repentance from a mother who has treated a child wrongly or has behaved poorly in general, is received sweetly when children know they are loved and that we are honestly looking out for their best interests. My kids knew without a doubt that I loved them, that I was committed to their upbringing and welfare, and that I was for them. (They also knew that I really liked them!) Most importantly, God hears the prayers of a mother. Pray.

Aaron has spent the last three evenings at my house, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating with him, visiting with him, or just having him around while he does his own thing. Yesterday afternoon, Aaron set up another video chat with Aimee and Avery. Sweet. (I heard from Michelle and Melissa yesterday, too.) 

I am Wearing. . . 

A purple t-shirt nightgown, blue jeans, and bare feet. It’s a super cute outfit! 

In the Kitchen. . . 

Me. I am in the kitchen right now.

Aaron came over the evening of my recent waffle-making day, so I pulled waffles out of the freezer and made some for him, too, topped with sweetened yogurt and berries just like mine. Aaron took a look at his plate and said, “Well, isn’t this the All-American meal?” Ha. Yes. I suppose these waffles, with the same toppings, would make a great red, white, and blue 4th of July breakfast!

 Aaron's waffles.

Oh, and about these waffles. Some of you (by comment or email or even text message!) have told me that they look really good and you want to make them. I have to say that if you are looking for the finest-tasting, crispiest waffles you ever ate, these might not be them. These are simple, straightforward, and healthy. They take toppings really well, and I happen to love them, but this is not the only waffle recipe I make. I based my recipe on one from Nourishing Traditions, where the flour is soaked to optimize nutritional benefit and digestive function. You could increase the butter to 6 T. for a crispier waffle, which is how waffles are meant to be.

I’ve been eating my normal fare: green lemonade or some other kind of juice with greens, a fruit smoothie, a big green salad, cooked vegetables and some kind of whole grain and protein. I eat some dried fruit (apricots and raisins), and I’ve been eating more nuts lately since I don’t eat a lot of meat. But I do eat eggs and, occasionally, tempeh. I want to buy a salmon fillet (a whole side) and cut it into smaller-than-usual individual fillet portions. I like to eat salmon at least once a week, and I haven’t done that for awhile.

Do you ever eat tempeh (a cultured soy product)? I like it, but some people (like my daughter Aimee) don’t. I made a brown rice stir-fry with a lot of vegetables and tempeh the other night. I cut the tempeh into squares and fried the squares in oil (fry one side, then turn and fry the other til golden). I seasoned the tempeh with salt, tossed it in some Asian vinaigrette (from a yummy raw food salad recipe I ate last week, too), and added it to the rice. Very tasty.

Yesterday my sister invited Aaron and me to her house to make grilled pizzas. She supplied the pizza dough, and we were to bring our own toppings. I don’t really eat pizza or cheesy things, but I do like grilled pizzas, and I decided to make a vegetable pizza with no cheese. Then I found a recipe for Pizza Bianca (white pizza) in the Riverside Everyday cookbook that looked easy and delicious. It called for crème fraiche (which is cultured, and I can handle some cultured dairy, like yogurt, so I thought I’d be safe with this). The recipe was simple. Gently cook a large panful of thinly sliced onions in olive oil (with salt) until they are translucent and very soft (but not browned). Toward the end of the cooking, taste for salt, and adjust. Spread the onions liberally on rolled-out pizza dough (you can brush the dough with olive oil, but there’s olive oil in the onions, so it isn’t really necessary). Dollop crème fraiche around the pizza (it will melt across the pizza when it cooks). Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Crack pepper over (I was pretty liberal with the pepper). Cook. Ours was cooked on a pizza stone set on a grill that was turned on very high (pizza is cooked at a super-high oven temperature), and it was delicious! 

I am Reading. . . 

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (because I don’t want to—waste my life, that is). 

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham (there’s a really interesting first chapter that argues against 100% raw foodism). I have my qualms with this book (not the raw foodism part, really), but I won’t go into them.

In my Bible: I cycle round and round the Old Testament, and I do the same with the New. I am currently reading in Nahum and I’m in a holding pattern in the New Testament, reading Hebrews 12 over and over again. I’ll read other sections of the New Testament, too, but I’m mostly focusing on Hebrews 12, and to bring it even closer, I’m looking to the verse “Fix your eyes on Jesus.”  I also read Psalms every day, and sometimes Proverbs, too. 

I am Pondering. . . 

All that has happened in the past two (or even ten) years, and how the Lord has led me along. There’s a line from the George MacDonald’s beautiful story The Golden Key that I can now see describes my recent life:

“Day after day he held on, and he thought he had no guide. He did not see how a shining fish under the water directed his steps.”

Sometimes we just walk, and we trust that the Lord is guiding our steps. What else can we do? In the Bible, God does promise to direct our steps again and again, so, although sometimes we feel lost, unsteady, unsure, or even entirely in the dark, we walk on, trusting that when we seek Him and His will, He will keep us on the path He has for us. Looking back on the last several years, and reading through my old journals, I can see clearly how He has done that for me. When we are assailed by situations and people, struggles and trials, God is in control. He commandeers everything to suit His purposes for us. And His plans for us are good.

At the same time, the Christian life is not all about me. It’s about Him. But that’s another post. 

I am Going. . . 

Blueberry picking again this week with two of my sisters and a friend.  Other than that, I’m not going anywhere except for around town to run errands and take care of business. Oh, and the normal everyday “goings” of taking a walk, socializing, going to the store, etc.

But Melissa is going somewhere. She’s coming here on Thursday. Yippee! 

I am Thinking. . . 

About my blog and what I want to do with it. I feel like I’m pounding out blather day after day. I have so many things on my mind and in my heart, so many things that matter to me, so many things I’d like to say, but when I start to write them, I stop. And then I resort to posting quickly written drafts of half-baked thoughts. And it makes me wonder why I am doing this.

Posting pictures of my home and writing journal-like entries about my daily life and then inviting others to read them (!), seems sort of self-absorbed and almost narcissistic. (This is not a commentary on blogging in general; it's what I happen to be wrestling regarding for my own blog.)What am I trying to do with the posts, anyway?! There are bigger thoughts behind these posts than I ever write down for my blog, but something in me resists writing more than what lies on the surface or is noncommittal. . . I’m not sure why. I’m certainly not shy or afraid to say what I’m thinking. Part of me, I think, just can’t get past the feeling that it’s seems sort of arrogant to keep a blog featuring my (very modest) house and philosophy of home-life, pictures of my family, and my perspective on homeschooling, parenting, life, and spiritual things. Because I’m still learning so much.

My daughter Aimee has asked/suggested that I write about gentle mothering because, she says, she can’t find much about that from a Christian perspective. Truly, my heart as a mother is to parent gently (though I certainly didn’t always succeed). Firmness is also in order, but, as a rule, a mother can, and should, be gentle. “A gentle word can break a bone.” To be asked by my daughter, a wonderful young mother, for posts about this, was sweet.

I don’t know what I’ll do. I have less than two months before school starts again, and I’ve been taking time the past few days to really think about what matters to me, what brings me joy and makes me smile, what God has put on my heart, what I have learned by experience and observation over the years, and what I can say or write about in the time I have left. Whatever I decide, I do know I will start with the questions that have been asked in comments (and emails) over the last month or two that have remained unaddressed.

Around the House. . . 

Things are getting more organized. Remember that messy garage photograph I posted recently? That kind of utter disarray is highly unusual for me. It got so crowded in that garage, and I got so overwhelmed by it that I just started flinging empty boxes and piling things erratically, with no sense of order or purpose. And that, I must say, is how you create much, much more work for yourself! :-) But I’m battling that mess and wrestling it into orderliness, and I’ve made great headway in the garage. Soon it will be orderly and peaceful out there.

In the rest of the house? Tidying. Sweeping. Scrubbing. Putting out fresh flowers. Still working slowly through boxes of papers and journals.

Have a lovely Monday afternoon and evening!


  1. In response to your blogging... Your articles on mothering are beneficial to those that are in the stage of mothering. But I hope your include in your focus those in midlife and the lessons/observations that are experience during this season in life.

    I enjoy reading your blog posts because it inspires! Nancy

  2. Susan--I wish you knew (perhaps you do?) what a blessing you are to so many people who read your blog. For me, your optimism and joy and perspective provide such a boost of encouragement, regardless of what you write about. I sense that you've been through some real trials, yet you continue to trust and rejoice and that really shines through and I imagine provides strength and encouragement for others on the journey (because trials come to everyone sooner or later). Anyway, thank you for blessing. And no, I really don't think that you come across as self centered in any way!!

  3. I have the same questions about blogging- who am I to suppose that anyone wants to read about my life? But honestly, my blog is for me as much as it is for anyone else. It is a record of these happy years of raising children, and it is a record of God's faithfulness. I have been inspired by reading your information about food and nutrition, and your thoughts about homeschooling are read with gratefulness for wisdom from someone who has walked the path before me! Thank you.

  4. For what it's worth, I really enjoy your blog, just the way it is. It is inspiring to read your cheerful posts. I know that you have faced some very difficult things (and even your quietness about it is inspiring!) but you are busy 'doing the next thing' and it encourages me!!

  5. I love everything you write about. I would be thrilled to read "gentle mothering" posts. But please keep chatting about food! :)

  6. I love your blog--it seems like a gift to us--just glimpses of an ordinary life by someone trying to do good work. I'd love to see the gentle mothering post. As an older mother, I love so much about your wisdom commenting on the mothering path. The food info is great too, and the simple path you are making. I read High Desert Home after you'd finished it, in one or two sittings, so this is nice b/c I can digest it one ay at a time.


    P.S.--Because of your blog, I do the green lemonade! Yippee!

  7. I so enjoy your blog too, about the food youre eating, and how you generally cope and live each day. I find that inspiring how you also add some relevant bible words to it too. I hope you dont change to a more mothering blog... cos for us 'older' more mature ladies... there is also very little for us out there too in that regard, so please for me I would vote for your 'older wiser 'womans outlook on life on this blog!

  8. I love reading about what you eat because I need to make changes and you make it seem very doable.

    I also am inspired by seeing pictures of your home. It is so cosy and sweet and simple. My husband and I were in need of some new dining room furniture and seeing your sweet home helped inspire me to look for used furniture instead of new.

    Boy am I ever glad we did. We got something we really LOVE and paid very little money for. I posted some pictures of our finds on my blog today if you'd like to see a few pictures.

    Anyway, I said all that to say this.....You have to be comfortable with what you share on your blog, but please know that you do NOT come off at all as 'narcissistic'. Or 'know-it-all. I feel like you're just sharing snippets of your real, sincere life and that's what we all love about your blog. (o:


  9. Susan, I think your true, humble, wisdom-from-God voice comes through so clearly. I just found your new blog today. I was mostly a lurker on your old one, and I've been checking it every couple months to see if you'd started posting again. I was so glad to see the answer was Yes!, because your voice is that of a Titus-type mentor to me. I'm a new mother (I'm probably about your daughters' age, with a little one-yr-old boy), and your descriptions of your daily doing-and-being have long been inspiring me about the kind of home (not just house, but *home*) I'd like to give my family, and the kind of mothering and educating I'd like to do with my children (I was blessed to have a Charlotte Mason education during middle school), and the kind of Jesus follower I aspire to be--faithful. So, I just want you to know that in my grateful eyes, your descriptions of a life faithfully lived are purpose enough for your blog. Thank you, Susan.
    Before this turns into a book, I'll share one more thing and then sign off...Have you read Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey? Speaking of mentors I haven't met, he describes his 13 mentors and how they changed and affected his faith and life. You might enjoy it!

  10. I have never found blather here in this space. You have a wonderful gentle tone in your writing and I find great joy coming here and taking a small peek into your life. I love your photos and the recipes you share. I would love to read about gentle mothering and I know that there are many who are searching for this encouragement. I am now in my early 40's so I love reading about your life now. I guess I just enjoy getting to visit in cyberland. So please keep writing...please...

  11. Thank you, Nancy. Not much will change, really. I just need to be more invested in what I write and think about what matters most to me and what is unnecessary. :-)

    Thank you, Silvana. I appreciate that very much. :-)

    Renee, you can be assured that I won't be able to keep from talking about food, but I'm glad to know you like to read those posts! :-)

    Tara, I'm glad you commented. Thank you. And I hope you are liking that green lemonade! :-)

    Winterwood, I am glad you read here, and I will definitely keep that older woman perspective. I can't help it because that's who I am! :-)

    Thanks, Michele, as always, and I just love your new table and chairs! How fun. :-)

    Very sweet, Rebecca! Thank you. I'm glad to know that you are here. I always forget that there are more than a few people reading what I post, and it's nice to know who you are! :-) Oh, and thanks so much for the book recommendation! I haven't read that yet. . .

    Thanks so much, Mary, for those kind words. I'm glad you are here. :-)

    (I put a smile on every single response. Maybe I should just assume that you know a smile is implied!)

  12. I just wanted to chime in, Susan, as another lurker who read and learned a lot from High Desert Home, and am so glad you are writing for us again! I love your food & homeschooling posts, and would love to hear what you have to say about gentle mothering. I'm the mother of a young boy and could use wisdom & encouragement in that area! I also really enjoy the books--cooking and otherwise--that you share! I just read Plain and Simple, which has me looking at my kitchen tasks in a new way.

    Everything you write is a blessing, but I hope you discover how to feel more comfortable with your blog so that the summer notebook becomes a longer notebook! =)


  13. Heather, I'm going to come back to write you a note tomorrow. My battery is dying fast, so I have to go now. But thank you so much for your comment. More later. . . :-)


  14. Susan, your blog is such a blessing to me. Your words encourage me and ground me, especially when I'm so overwhelmed. Please always write.:)

  15. Hi Heather! Thank you for the nice encouragement. I really appreciate it. I don't know if I can continue the blog when school starts. School takes so much of my time and focus. I'm thinking about whether or not there is a way I could do both, even if I do simple posts on the weekends or something. I don't know. . . we'll see! I really liked reading Plain and Simple, too. It was a beautiful book. Have you read the book, Better Off? It's not poetic and contemplative like Plain and Simple, but it makes you think about similar things. I really liked that book. :-)

    Janet, I'm so glad you find what I write encouraging. Thank you for saying so. Blessings to you! :-)

  16. Hi Susan,

    I am glad I could give you a little encouragement in return. =) I didn't realize that you were in school full time now; I must have missed a post about that I guess, but I know that certainly takes a lot out of a person!

    Funny that you mention Better Off--I was at a friend's house today and she had the book on the coffee table, so that is twice I've heard of it in one day. Perhaps I will have to have a read soon!


  17. Oh Susan....just your presence here is such a blessing. I don't say much but you are always a good, true anchor for me. I come here and rest and get re-inspired to tackle my life. You are a treasure and I'm so glad for any time you can give here.

  18. Tonia <3, I don't know if you'll see this, but it made me so happy to see your face here this morning! I don't say much over your way, either, but *you* are that inspiration to me. I know what you face in your life--joy and peace as well as trials--and you are more beautiful every day because your face is turned toward our Father's. Thank you for your encouragement today. I've been thinking of you and praying for you daily.


  19. Sally Clarkson's blog, , is full of gentle mothering mentoring for those who are looking for more. It is very good. Sorry I'm so late in sharing this.