About Susan

SusanGray I was born in 1959 in Silver Spring, Maryland to Harry & Mary Simms.  The only daughter of 3 children and the youngest.  I've been married for 30 years and I have 4 children and 3 grandchildren. 

I have an interesting family - or at least I think so.  We have our hands into a lot of pots at the same time and there are times I can't keep track of them all for all the confusion, which is why I started this blog - to organize my life you might say.  What it has become over time has been interesting.  Raisin Toast started out as a personal blog and has morphed into my creative home on the web as well.

I am an artist and I paint in oils and pastels, and you can visit my portfolio at Mary Susan Vaughn Fine Art

I became a TypePad Blog Champion in 2008 and was featured in the 2010 book "TypePad for Dummies!"  I enjoyed learning how to be creative in the background of my blog and doing all the web design myself.  It is still a work in progress.

You might say I am always creating something, since I have a habit of getting sucked into creative projects that become all consuming, sometimes at the expense of the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning.  I love to write (obviously), I love to paint, and I love to sew and quilt.  These three creative endeavors give me purpose, and I enjoy sharing them with you.

Susan1977 I graduated in 1977 from Sherwood High in Sandy Spring, Maryland.  I attended Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in my late 20s where I studied Pre-Law and then went on to attend Georgetown University where I majored in International Business & Law and joined Phi Alpha Delta.  I hated Economics and Statistics and was completely lost in Accounting.  I therefore took a sabatical to get married and have more babies since at the time I already had two girls.  My mind had a way of getting all wrapped around the axel at Georgetown.  I was much happier having the opportunity to stay home, decorate, sew, paint, craft, and ultimately homeschooling our children.  Being a full-time Mom has been a blessing and an honor in my life.  Thank you Big Bear.


BobonBike My husband's name is Robert.  I, and friends, call him "Big Bear." He is definitely a Big Bear - he growls on occasion and shakes the forest every night with his snoring.  Conference call after conference call and I wonder what it "is" exactly that he does.  He apparently, though, accomplishes a lot in his shorts in our home office and must be doing something right because his phone rings all day, he travels on occasion (not in his shorts), and he brings home a good paycheck so that I can stay home and take care of the home and family, and for 24 years, my elderly mother lived with us.   Note: He is in the tech industry, and being laid off has become par for the course of our life together.  We've learned that you really can live on love.


SarahI homeschooled Sarah, Matthew, and Glen (my first and eldest grandchild) until they began high school.   My daughter, Sarah graduated with honors from Appalachian State University with honors and 2 degrees in Religious Studies and Psychology.  She received her Masters in Divinity from Wake Forest University and is now a Minister of Discipleship at a church in Asheville, NC.  Sarah got married in May, 2017.  Her husband is also in ministry, and together, they just had a son, their first child, Samuel, in October 2022.  Matthew is a student at UNC Charlotte, working on his Masters in History.  Matthew got married in August 2020, and has 2 dogs and a kitty.  He is an accomplished composer and pianist and has an album and a book in the works. 


IMG_0224My mother, Mary was 97 in October 2021, and lived with us for 24 years.  I loved her and miss her dearly. She passed away in January 2022 after suffering a stroke the month before.  Caring for her and watching her health decline in the last years of her life was difficult, but we made sure she had all the nursing care she needed at our home. The children will have a lifetime of memories of growing up with their Grandmother M, and that is a good thing.  A wonderful gift is in the stories we share with our family and friends.

We moved to North Carolina in 2005 shortly after Bob's father passed away.  We like it here but it is different than living in Maryland where we both grew up.  One thing hasn't changed though, we manage to always buy the house that needs drastic repairs, reconstruction, remodeling, and re-landscaping, and no sooner do we finish it all than we end up selling the house - which is exactly what happened in 2022 with our home of 17 years in Weddington, NC.  The kids were married and gone, my mother had passsed away, and for the most part, it was just Big Bear and myself in this big house.  It was time to move on to the next journey in our life - retirement in the mountains.

For the past 2 years, Bob and I have been planning and deciding on house plans, property to build our next house, and more.  We purchased a beautiful almost 3 acre lot in The Coves of Mountain River Club in Lenoir, NC, after we sold our home in Weddington.  We found a perfect home plan for our needs - a one story (with full basement) farmhouse plan on Architectural Designs #56483SM.  We ordered the plans and are making some minor revisions, and can't wait to break ground!

In the meantime, we are living in an apartment complex near our daughter Sarah, her husband Matt, and their baby boy Samuel, to help her with her new baby while our home is being built.

Sharing my stories and experiences here on Raisin Toast has been cathartic and important to me.  Someday, hopefully not anytime soon, when I am gone, I hope my children and grandchildren, family and friends, can look back on this blog with fondness and enjoy the pictures and stories time and time again.

Welcome to my story...