Saturday, December 31, 2011

An Illustrated Little Roundup of Things That is Actually Pretty Long. . .

Ah, isn't it cute?!

1. Thrifty. I was at a thrift store with my mom and one of my sisters recently when I spotted this green mug. I held it up in front of the two of them, and they immediately sang out, “Grammy!” Yep. It made us all think of sweet, funny, charming Grammy (we all miss her like crazy). She kept mugs very similar to this one in her kitchen and drank coffee from them every day. So, for 50 cents, I bought the mug, and it is now my new mug of choice when I drink my morning coffee and tea.

Yum. Seriously.
(I cut it in half to show you.) 

2. Tasty. I made the best “raw” and “healthy” treats today! I made my usual chocolate truffle recipe, but today I had the bright idea of forming the truffle balls around a smaller ball of peanut butter (the peanut butter is actually not raw, but the rest of the truffle is). I make 1/3 of a batch of the following recipe: 3 c. dried, unsweetened coconut; 1 ½ c. cocoa powder; 1 c. maple syrup; 1/3 c. coconut butter; 1 T. vanilla; ½ t. salt. Stir everything together. The mixture will be wettish, but add a bit more coconut if is just too wet to handle. Shape into a ball. Make an indentation in it, press in the peanut butter, and reshape the chocolate truffle around the peanut butter. Set in a dish dusted with cocoa powder, and when all truffles are shaped sift more cocoa powder over the top. Cover and keep in fridge (they will firm up in the fridge).

3. Good Reading. I am loving the book I am reading right now. It is called Miriam’s Kitchen (by Elizabeth Ehrlich) and was given to me by my daughter Aimée at Christmas two or three years ago. I’ve started to read the book a few different times, and I’ve liked it, but I've gotten sidetracked on every attempt. The book tells the story about how the cooking and kitchen of the author’s mother-in-law draws her back to her own Jewish roots and faith. I don’t know if it’s because I so very much enjoyed my “Jewish Cultures in America” class last term or what, but the book is just the right thing for me to read right now. It is extremely warm, engaging, and well-written, and the book is full of deep observations and insights.

My favorite college player!
If you follow college football, and you don't know who he is yet,
you will.

4. Coming up. The Rose Bowl. January 2. Oregon vs. Wisconsin. Watch it (and root for Oregon, even if you live in Wisconsin)! I’ll definitely be watching (the game, not you).

Update: Yay! What a crazy game. And my favorite player amazed a lot of people.

A humble, but warm (!), room.
This photo was taken the week I moved in.
The towels have now made way for books and flutes and coffee mugs.

5. Where I hang out the most in my house in winter. The bathroom! It’s so warm in there. Actually, I only retreat to the room now and then throughout the day when it’s extra chilly, but on really cold days, I spend quite a bit of time in there. Sometimes books pile up on that bathroom counter, along with little notebooks and pens. I peruse cookbooks and other books there, play my flute (you didn’t know I played the flute, did you? my playing is nothing to jump up and down about, really, but I’ve been enjoying it again), and I talk on the phone. I take my coffee into the room on extra cold mornings and read my Bible and devotional there. It’s the warmest room in the house by far, and the closest I’ll get in this house to having a woodstove. But, hey—I’m not complaining! I'm thankful to live in this wonderful place.

 Look at me! I stole one of Kim's pictures without permission!
(Kim, if you are mad at me, I will remove this.)
But I wanted you others to see. It's a magical, wintry photo
and it's just one out of about a million nice ones at Kim's blog. (Click.)

6. Good blog. Have I ever mentioned Kim of Starry Sky Ranch here? If not, I don’t know what has taken me so long. I’ve been reading Kim’s blog for years, and she’s been a steady favorite of mine from the very beginning. She’s got a houseful of kids ranging from very little ones to adults (even though she looks about 25-years-old!). She and her family left their Colorado ranch behind and now live in Germany. Kim’s photos are beautiful, her spirit is clear and refreshing, she lives lovely (but wouldn't want me to publicly lavish praise on her), and she has accumulated lot of wisdom over the years that she doesn’t try to foist off on anyone, so just watch and listen, and you’ll glean much from Kim. (No pressure or anything, Kim!)

7. What I ate today. (I used to do these posts occasionally, for some odd reason, so I thought I’d go out with one last food list because I’m sure you care!) Sprouted grain toast with almond butter-miso-honey spread. A whole quart of green smoothie. Three chocolate-peanut butter truffles. Delicious maple-roasted butternut squash (I ate a whole small squash all by myself—there are perks to living alone). Pomegranate seeds. Cashews. Collard leaf wraps with mango-veggie-slaw and peanut sauce (made with raw almond butter). Normally, I eat a big salad, but it didn’t happen today. I got plenty of greens and vegetables, though.

8. Celebrating. It’s New Year’s Eve, after all, but I’m home alone. I suppose I could make some popcorn or eat another chocolate truffle. For sure I’ll relax and read. I think that makes a great celebration. : : : Later, I'm still here--I hear occasional fireworks going off outside, and it's not even close to midnight. I guess I'm celebrating by attaching photos to this post. : : :

Resolutions? I don’t really do them. I just try to start anew whenever I need to. When I realize I’ve gotten off-track (with exercise and health habits, Bible reading and prayer, or anything else), I try to get right back on. When I fall, I just stand back up, dust myself off, deal with any obstacles or hindrances that are tripping me up or blocking my way, and get moving again. I don’t wait for a new day, a new week, a new month, or a new year to do it. God’s mercies are new every morning, but they are also available every minute of every day.

But still, the end of one year and the start of the next naturally lead most of us to reflect and even rethink some things. It’s a good time to remember, appreciate, reflect, pray, and sharpen the vision. And resolutions should be made by all who find them useful! :-)

9. Another good book. The Hidden Power of Kindness by Lawrence G. Lovasick. Becoming truly kind is not a New Year’s resolution, but it’s a lifelong aim or vision that began when I became serious about this book a few weeks ago. I’ve had the book around for years, and when I first got it I liked it fine, but it struck me like one of those old positive-thinking-be-nice-to-everyone-in-order-to-elevate-yourself-or-become-successful books. It seemed to have some good thoughts in it, but I just didn’t get into the book. But when I picked it up again recently, I began to read the book in my normal fashion: I opened it; browsed through it; skipped to the middle, then to the back, then to the front, and all over the place at random, stopping wherever something struck me; looked at the table of contents for the most compelling parts and read those; began to become engrossed in the book; began to be confronted and challenged by it; began to realize the profundity of it; and began to develop a deep desire to live according to its principles (which are really Biblical principles, but expounded wonderfully). I eventually finished the whole thing. This is a deep, powerful, inspiring book, and I realize that being truly kind (loving well) is a serious, challenging discipline that can only happen by the grace of God in person’s life.

Oh, who are those adorable children?!

10. Super fun. Saving the longest part for the end. Christmas at Michelle’s house was fun. She made homemade cinnamon rolls, not only on Christmas morning, but (per unanimous request) she also made them on Tuesday morning. And we ate them with good coffee! (Yay, Michelle! You are awesome!) The kids, as always, cracked me up. Let me tell you just a few little (gripping!) stories of things they said or did.

Let’s start with Liya. We (adults/women) were in the kitchen chatting, as we like to do, and we heard two-year-old Liya gasping and grunting really loudly. We glanced into the living room, and there she was, sitting neck-high in a round basket, and pulling up on the handles with all of her might. She saw us look her way and sputtered, “I can’t pick myself up! I’m too heavy!”

And just a little while later, six-year-old Roman called from the living room, where he was playing legos with Jayden. “Hey, Momma! Is God just playing play with us? Is he controlling us?” Michelle looked at me, puzzled and sort of amused, and I suggested, “Does he mean in the same way he’s playing with his legos?” Michelle asked him if that’s what he meant, and Roman said, “Yeah, is God just playing with us and moving us around?”

And then there was four-year-old Jayden. Just try reading a book straight through with Jayden. It’s not going to happen because the boy is thinking about everything on every page and has a lot to say about it! Aimee and Josiah gave him One Morning in Maine for Christmas, and we read it together a number of times (I don’t mind; I love Robert McCloskey). First, he was tickled pink that Sal (from Blueberries for Sal, our old favorite read-together book) has grown up a bit and is in this new book! We had to talk about that for quite a long time. Then Jayden started noticing things. Like, on one page, when a fish-hawk was flying with a fish in its mouth to a nest high in a snag beside the water, Jayden wanted to know, “Why is the bird flying that way with the fish when the water is over there?” (The bird was flying from the direction of the woods and not the water.) “Good question, JayJay! Why do you think?” And then we talked about the reasons that might have been. And, on another page, when Sal slipped on seaweed on a rock, a loon on the water was said to “laugh.” Jayden said, “Why did the loon laugh at Sal? That was not very nice!” I told him it was okay because Sal was laughing, too, so they were laughing together.

And I suppose I shouldn’t leave out 11-month-old Avery, who thinks she is one of the big kids. She follows them all over and plays what they play. We had to keep an eye on her because she liked to head for the stairs to attempt an ascent, and we meant to keep her safely downstairs. The three older kids were playing “Super Hero,” all in capes and masks. They had created a little fort with a foam sleeping pad, blankets, and pillows. Aimee noticed Avery was suddenly missing and asked where she was. Jayden called out, “We have her in the Batcave,” and Roman announced that they weren’t letting her escape. I peeked over the side of the cave, and there was Avery, happy as could be in her diaper, wearing a red cape with a lightning bolt on the back. The cape was twice as long as Avery.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ 

Okay. Enough of that. I am working on a post to answer all of the questions that came up in the last several days. It's getting pretty long, and I still have a long ways to go, so I think I'm going to try to cut things way back and be concise(ish--relatively. . .) for once, even if it does mean leaving out a lot.

Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year, dear Susan! I am so tickled that- even though I thought you had written your Final Post~ I've gotten to read more from you! Much, much love to you and yours~ what a dear, sweet family you have been blessed with!

  2. like you would miss your Starry Sky Ranch friend if she stopped blogging, so you will be very missed here.

  3. So glad you are still here. Second wind? I hope so. Happy New Year.

  4. Oh Susan! I'm going to really miss you when you stop blogging, I love reading your posts and I always find inspiration from them.

    I wish you a joyful and blessed New Year 2012 and if you do change your mind about about blogging, I will certainly be one little happy camper... no pressure!!

    Jane X

  5. Would you PLEASE consider posting just once a month and not stopping altogether? You are such a joy! Happy New Year!

  6. That's a really cute bathroom! I like mine for solitude, but I bet the acoustics are great for flute in there, too!

  7. I meant the acoustics in your bathroom, not mine. That's probably obvious, but I don't like it when I omit antecedents.

  8. I enjoyed this post so much. It's always nice to read the lovely things going on in your life.

    I love the green mug!

    Hope this year is wonderful.

  9. Thank you, Stacy. I appreciate you so much--both here and at your blog!

    That's sweet, Jo. Thank you. :-)

    No second wind, Lucille. :-) Just having a little fun before I go. But thanks for the nice words.

    Jane, I really appreciate your comment, too. Thank you! And God bless you.

    GrammaGrits! :-) I really need to completely stop the blogging--for a lot of different reasons. But I appreciate your sentiments very much.

    But I knew what you meant even without antecedents! :-) That bathroom is tiny, but it's a cheery place, and the acoustics really are pretty nice. You *would* think of that! Love it.

    Stacy, thank you so much! I love the little mug. I'm drinking from it right now. :-) I pray you'll have a truly blessed, wonderful year, too.

  10. I play the flute, too.....but not in my bathroom. The truffles look yummy and I do write out *resolutions*....but also agree with you, take care of things when they happen, not just Jan. 1.