Monday, August 1, 2011

Another Monday Morning Daybook. . .

My two granddaughters. Sweet, sweet.
(You can always click to enlarge, you know!)

Above are Pictures I am sharing... 

I just barely missed seeing Michelle, Monty, and my other three grand-kids this past weekend. I left Aimee, Josiah, and Melissa’s Portland apartment for home on Saturday morning, and the other gang showed up a few hours later. It sounds like they had a grand time together swimming and playing. I really wish I could have been there, but thankfully I have children who share lots of pictures with me! 

Outside my window... 

Morning sunshine lights the trees of my back yard. And somehow, it appears, a little miracle has occurred. Recently, a too-rangy rosebush tipped completely over so that it was lying, tired, on the ground. But the bush kept blooming, and I kept looking at it out the window, always telling myself to prop it back up. But being the lethargic gardener I am this summer (this not being my house, and me not wanting to pay to water everything to lushness), I just never got around to it. And still that rosebush kept thriving and blooming. Suddenly, looking out the window this morning, I see that it is upright again. I can see its pretty red blooms rising above the fence. The so-called gardener—that one who violently cares for this yard—must  have set it right. 

I am thankful... 

For yesterday. It was just a nice day. After church, Aaron came home with me, and we sat for a long time at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee, talking about all sorts of things: family, food, music, art, books, and spiritual life. We continued chatting through the afternoon, and eventually I cooked us an early dinner of garlicky-lemony chickpeas with wilted spinach served over whole grain rice. And then we had a berry smoothie.

Finally, Aaron thought he should get things done on the computer (part of why he had come—he does not have internet service at his apartment), so we moved along to the living room where my internet plug-in is. I have wireless internet, but I don’t have whatever-it-is that a person needs in order to actually use it, so I made a temporary little computer station out of an old end table set in the way-back-corner of the living room behind the loveseat. The cable connection comes into the house there, and the internet thingy is plugged into this. It’s sort of empty in that computer corner next to the fireplace, and it’s kind of inconvenient, but I actually like it this way right now.

Because this is an old house that hasn't been entirely rewired, the only three-prong outlets in the house are in the kitchen and bathroom. So I keep the computer plugged into one of the kitchen outlets and do my typing there. When I want to go online, I carry the computer to that living room corner and run the computer on battery power. This actually works out well because, being both lazy and affected by aesthetics and ambiance, I don’t like to move to the internet spot often, so I don’t spent a lot of time online.

Something that brought a bit of extra life and fun to yesterday’s internet experience was that Aaron hooked up a Google video chat with Aimee while he did his thing online. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I did like that Avery smiled at me through that screen (!) and kicked her legs and waved her arms while she chattered at me.

While they were talking, I heard Aimee tell Aaron to pick up the computer and show her the living room because, “I want to see Mom’s house.” He did, and Aimee said, “Oooh, it’s Mom’s cozy living room! I’m in my mother’s house!” Then she began to go about her business at her Portland apartment, dragging her computer with her from room to room. Eventually she ended up in the kitchen cooking dinner while still talking with Aaron. At first Aimee pretended she was doing a cooking show, and I heard Melissa (who shares an apartment with Aimee and Josiah) holler from the background, “This is pathetic!” :-) Aimee was cooking Moroccan Couscous from Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook and said that she makes it often and it’s delicious, so I got out my Alicia book and had a look at the picture and recipe. I’ll have to try it!

As Aimee and Aaron chatted, I moved around the house to tidy messes, open windows and doors to the afternoon breeze (I love as much fresh air coming into the house as possible), and wash dishes. I'd occasionally overhear Aimee tell a funny story about something Michelle’s kids said or did when they visited the Portland gang on the weekend, so I’d gravitate back to the computer to listen, laugh, and comment. And I would see Josiah walk by with Avery, or hear Melissa talk in the background, and it was all so surreal and strange. (I felt like I was watching a reality TV show! Except that, if I did watch one, I wouldn’t have a relationship with those on the screen.) Finally, Aimee finished cooking dinner, and we all said goodbye.

In the kitchen... 

Let’s look at these cookbooks for a few hints. These are the books I collected one-by-one from the bookshelves to browse while I wandered around going back and forth between chatting with Aimee on the computer, browsing my bookshelves, and tidying as needed (one can’t work too hard on Sunday!)

Let’s start with the top book, The Green Kitchen. I bought this one on the clearance table (this is how I buy most books now, when I do buy them—used or on clearance!) at the university over a year ago, and it gave me some great ideas for cooking simply and frugally and for using less energy in the kitchen (thereby saving $$$ and being more eco-friendly). Before buying this book, I had already almost entirely stopped using the oven anyway out of an attempt to run a super-frugal kitchen. I do bake cookies rarely, and I will sometimes roast something like a salmon, but I try to do as much as I can on the stovetop now, and I try, if I can, to do it with a lid!

Rather than roasting vegetables (which I love), I’ve turned to braising them. I do a lot of braising of vegetables, particularly in fall, winter, and spring. I think braising is healthier, and it can certainly be delicious I done right! Also, rather than baking something for a treat (except rarely), I will now most often make a healthy stovetop treat, like chocolaty almond clusters or brown rice krispie peanut butter treats with chocolate chips or something else quick and easy.

The next two books on the pile, Skye Gyngell’s books A Year in My Kitchen and My Favorite Ingredients are books I don’t use often except for pictorial inspiration and for good reading (which, actually, are very good uses!). Because it’s been necessary (and good) for me to vastly simplify my kitchen and cooking, most recipes in books do serve mainly as inspiration now. Most stuff I cook only uses a handful of ingredients.

Anyway, Skye’s books are beautiful, and this is why they remain on my shelves. I don’t know about you, but I love reading people’s lists of favorite books, favorite kitchen gadgets, favorite ingredients, or what’s in their pantry. So, My Favorite Ingredients is fun to read for that reason alone. Favorite ingredients I have in common with Skye are cherries (which I don’t count as an ingredient, really), olive oil, leaves (greens), citrus, tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, and chocolate. Lemons, garlic, olive oil, chocolate, and greens are everyday staples in my kitchen, too, among a few other things. Someday I’ll have to make my own list of favorites.

The next book, Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson, is a pretty book with easy, tasty, healthy recipes, which I like. It’s a vegetarian book, and I don’t eat a lot of meat (but I’m definitely not a vegetarian), so this is nice for me. I love Heidi’s chickpeas with garlic, lemon, olive oil and dandelion greens (I’ve used arugula and spinach, too, and both are delicious). In fact, this is the recipe I made yesterday when Aaron was here. For dinner tonight, I’ll be making Heidi’s tempeh with broccoli and mung beans.

Next on the pile: Raw Food Detox Diet. This was the first raw food “cookbook” I ever bought, and I still refer to it occasionally. Quite frankly, I don’t buy into a lot of the raw food hype that goes around, including within this book, but I do know that eating light and clean with plenty of properly prepared raw foods, really makes me feel better and stronger, and my skin gets really soft and clear. The corn Portobello mushroom salad I showed on my last post came from this book. The vinaigrette that the mushrooms marinate in makes this salad delicious.

The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. This is a pretty book that I bought at Goodwill on my daughter Aimee’s recommendation, but I will probably never cook much from it even though the recipes seem excellent. A large part of the point of this vegan book is to make meat-lovers happy, so there are a lot of recipes that try to offer a meat-like eating experience. I don’t really care to pretend that one food is another, so I don’t often try these sorts of things. I do love the vegan potato and green bean salad recipe in the book, though.

 The Raw 50 by Carol Alt. This is mostly ho-hum to me because it’s a raw cookbook that, again, seems to try to make non-raw eaters happy. Some of it looks good, and this is where I got the idea to make smoothies with bananas and romaine (and berries or whatever else I want to add that makes sense). And this was a good idea, saving me a lot of lemons and apples.

If you ask me, Crazy Sexy Diet is an unfortunate title that gives the wrong impression unless you already know about Kris Carr and her years-long battle with liver cancer. Kris has created quite a “brand” for herself, starting with her first book Crazy Sexy Cancer where she went into all-out battle against her disease and changed her entire lifestyle and outlook. She still has cancer (it’s incurable), but it hasn’t grown, and Kris feels better than she has in her entire life. She’s been featured on Oprah and featured by Dr. Oz (who has been influenced by Kris’s dietary lifestyle because he said something is certainly working). So Crazy Sexy Diet is not about making you look a certain way, but about making you healthy and vibrant. It’s a vegan book that includes a lot of raw food. Except for the fact that I eat meat-light and some cultured dairy (occasionally), I eat similar to the way Kris does.

Okay, I think that’s enough cookbook and kitchen talk, don’t you?

I am wearing... 

What has apparently become my morning uniform: brown hiking shorts, white t-shirt, soft blue polar fleece (this is my favorite one), Chaco flip-flops, reading glasses, and, as usual, wildly messy hair.

I am creating... 

A post in response to my friend Aimee’s question in the comments of my last post about raw foods and digestion problems. I’m almost finished with that post, and I hope I’ll have it up by the end of the day. As soon as I post this, though, I’m going to get busy around here. I got a late start on the computer this morning, and I don’t want to use up the whole day sitting here! :-)

I am going... 

Nowhere in particular. To pay some bills. To the local hippie natural food store to buy some lemons and tahini. To the back yard to sit in the sunshine!

I am reading... 

Psalms, Hebrews, I Peter. The cookbooks you see in the picture above. Amy Carmichael’s little book If as well as her really comforting book Gold By Moonlight: Sensitive Lessons From a Walk With Pain. And I’ve run across Maira Kalman’s book, The Principles of Uncertainty, which really coincides with my most eccentric sense of humor. While Kalman’s fundamental philosophy of life is different from mine, there is definitely some overlap, and it’s all put in such witty, clever terms. I love reading through this book.

Here, let me share a few pictures from the book and possibly spare you the trouble of going to find this and then wondering what in the world Susan has recommended? It’s probably not for everyone. (It should be a crime, really, to post the following photos because the quality is awful, but I don't want to take time to make better ones, so these will have to do. I hope you can read the print on some of these--you will almost definitely need to click on them to read the text; I think you can/should actually double-click):

 Typical humor.

I like this. I love to read obituaries, too,
especially the long feature-story obituaries.
Everyone has a story, and people are so interesting!
The obituaries are reminder that life is brief, and they always
make me ask how I am living my life, my days.

We should all have such an aunt.
We should all have such a home.
We should all sit and talk over coffee or tea and tell stories.

I am thinking... 

How much has changed, and how life doesn’t always go the way we think it will or hope it will or according to our own design, but whatever way it goes, it can be good. Even when it looks anything but good. That is the gift of knowing God.

It strikes me lately me how much I’ve “let go” of material things, not by noble, thoughtful, self-sacrifice, but just because the events of my life and all of the spiritual lessons that they’ve brought have altered me. It’s just happened naturally. I still enjoy the things around me very much—I love sweetness, order, beauty, and atmosphere—but feel far more detached from my material possessions, and even from living a certain lifestyle, than I ever have before.

And I’m thinking how thankful I am. And how blessed.

Around the house... 

 When I snapped a photo of Aaron at the computer,
I turned and snapped this. It shows the layout
of this end of the house just off the entry way.
My bedroom to the left.
Extra bedroom/guest room/office storage/play room to the right.

Doors and windows are almost always open (except in the hottest part of the day). Today, a lovely cool breeze wafts through, and I hear sweet birdsong. Sunshine makes the house bright and cheery and energizes my domestic spirit. I want to flit around and clean everything and put flowers out and cook something!

I’m still cleaning and sorting through boxes and papers, but I haven’t done as much of it in the last week and need to get back at it. The garage got too hot last week to do much organizing and clearing-out-of-boxes in there, so I’ll see if I can get to it during the cooler part of the day throughout this week. I’d like to end the week with an almost-empty garage.

And now, I’m signing off and carrying on! I hope your day, wherever you are, is as lovely as the one here.


  1. Enjoying everything here but also have a question. Why are there three little icons - computer, mailbox and telephone peppered throughout the text? They don't seem to act as links. Do you see them too?

  2. The thinking part of your post reminds me of something Bob has been saying a lot recently: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." It's from Woody Allen.

  3. wish i could putter around with you for a day in your breezy, sunny home....big smoothies in hand, perusing cookbooks, creating lunch with all your market veggies.

    it has to be said (again), i'm ever so glad you're here journaling your days and wisdom again.

    sending much love from across the miles, susan.

  4. Another lovely visit Susan. I am vicariously enjoying your open windows and doors and imagining actual fresh air blowing through the rooms. We are all sealed up against the unrelenting heat. I am, of course, so grateful for a.c. - but I do long for fresh air!
    Thanks for sharing yours and all of the other delightful things.

  5. I love the photos of the sweet granddaughters!

    I sure am glad you started blogging again!


  6. My battery is flashing it's warning light, so I need to take the computer back to the plug in the kitchen. So, thanks to all of you at once for commenting! I always enjoy reading them!

    Oh, and by the way, Lucille, I have no idea what you are seeing. I don't see it. I wonder if others do? Thanks for mentioning it. I'll look into it further.

    Blessings to each of you!

  7. Oh, I almost missed this post..not sure how, but just read about half. I want to savor the rest for later. Reading ~in the kitchen~ is like sitting with you while you are teaching:-)

    Have you ever visited the blog, beauty that moves by Heather...if so you know how nice her blog is, if not, visit sometime. She has created an online class, 30 day vegan beginning in about a week. It proves you are never too old to learn new things :-) Thank you again for taking time out of your day to share!

    the simple woman

  8. Peggy, your presence reminded me that I didn't put a link on the daybook page! I always mean to do this, and don't always remember. So I just added the daybook graphic to the end of the post and linked it at the site. :-) (And, really, it's not just because you came by! I am just a scattered woman! :-) )

    It's really nice to see you here. Thanks for sharing Heather's blog. I've been there (it's a pretty place!), but it's been awhile, so I'll check it out. And thank you for your nice words.


  9. Years long pleased to have some more book ideas! You have no idea how many new "friends" I've met over the years at your recommendation. I'm so glad you are blogging again!

    Jennifer E.

  10. Jennifer, so good to hear from you! :-) Your comment made me smile. Very nice to meet you. :-)