Thursday, August 16, 2018

So Sad to Lose Another Music Legend

Yesterday, my husband and I took a quick trip to Houston.  It's a two 
hour drive each way, but David had some business to do there and invited 
me to tag along.  As we aproached Sugar Land (just to the west of
Houston), we saw a big advertising board featuring an upcoming 
concert with Tony Bennett and his daughter.  I immediately wondered
how old is Tony now?  I looked it up, and he is 92!  Wow, 92 and still
performing!  It's truly amazing stamina that allows him to still do this.  

Then this morning, I heard of the passing of Aretha Franklin.  We
all knew this was coming, but it's still hard to accept.  Like many of
you, I was a big fan of Aretha.  Such a powerful voice and presence!
She uplifted women and her songs made us all feel stronger.  Although
she is now longer on this earthly realm, I imagine she has joined
the choir up in Heaven and there must be much rejoicing there.
I'm quite sure she will be performing many solos too.

Music has always touched my life.  My Mama had music playing all
of the time, and would even take the time to learn my favorites too.
It's one of those mediums that has the ability to evoke powerful
memories, both happy and sad.  It can instantly transport us to
another place and time.  It uplifts a sad heart and brings a smile
to an unhappy face.  I cannot image a life without it.

Many years ago now, David and I added jazz favorites to our list.
We started to collect CD's from Oscar Peterson, Gene Harris, and
 others.  As our passion for this medium grew, our love expanded
beyond East Coast jazz to West Coast jazz.  Dave Brubeck
became a new favorite.  We were blessed to have Dave perform
in Boise, and we bought tickets to see his performance.  When
he walked onto the stage, he appeared quite frail, but the minute
he sat down at the piano, he was transformed.  His fingers moved
so effortlessly across the keyboard that it was pure magic.
We, along with the sold out arena, were gifted with the most
beautiful evening of memorable music.  

Sadly, he is gone now, but I will never forget that night, and for
me, as well as for many, his memory lives on.  Here is one of
his favorites:

Today's goodbye is bittersweet.   Aretha will be greatly missed,
but I am glad that she is now free of pain.  Thank you, Aretha,
you have left us with many happy memories.  Here is a clip
from the movie The Blues Brothers.  It's one of my favorite
performances of Aretha's hit RESPECT!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, August 13, 2018

Scenes From My Romantic Guest Room

This room has turned out to be quite romantic.  With the exception of
a very few elements, like this new pillow, most things are either 
antiques, or very vintage.

This room is filled with light and love and memories.

This is not to everyone's taste, and is certainly not a room
that is on trend, but it's charming to me.

I wanted this room to be elegant, without being too stiff.

I think that the combination of the florals and plaids give it
a friendly feeling.

Built in shelves filled with antique tea and demitasse cups.

A miniature desk that could very well be visited by a fairy.

A hand knotted Persian carpet that I spent hours haggling 
over with a Bahraini carpet salesman.  He swore he would
never come back to deal with me again, but of course he
did, and my persistence paid off in the end. 

This carpet also has a special meaning for me.  It was one
of the very few things that the firemen were able to save when
my townhouse in Houston was struck by lightning and burned
to the ground years ago.  Fortunately, a very fine carpet 
cleaner was able to clean off layers of ash and soot, and a 
couple to burn marks are hardly noticeable.    I think it's 
perfect in this room.

An antique icon from Italy that belonged to my parents. 

There is a second one on the end table next to the love seat.

This is a very vintage love seat with a slipcover.  It's shabby and 
really quite comfy too.

Love these nesting tables.

My Mama's Italian jewel box and a hand painted bowl and dish that
Daddy brought back from Japan.

This is the top of the mirror over the dresser.   Mom and Daddy purchased 
this mirror from an estate sale at a Chicago hotel.  The mirror is well
over 100 years old and that is real gold leaf.

A photo of my very first Yorkie, Bitterman.  Always in our hearts.
I hope you enjoyed this scenes as much as I enjoyed showing
them to you.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, August 10, 2018

Homemade Soup and a Good Book

It's hot and humid outside, and a cool salad seems more appropriate
for lunch, but I was longing for a mug of homemade hot soup to
sip while finishing up my current read.

Soup is my favorite food to make.   It's flavorful, comforting and
as cozy as a well worn quilt.  This mug is full of tomato and rice
soup that took just minutes to make.

I sautéed some onion and garlic.  I added 1 can of diced tomatoes,
and a can full of chicken broth.  After bringing this to a boil, I
let it simmer for 30 minutes.  I took out my immersion blender
and whipped it all together which made the soup so creamy.
Then I added just a touch of half and half and some left over
rice pilaf from last night's dinner.  I poured the soup into a
mug, and added a bit of shredded Romano and Parmesan
cheese to the top.  Yum!  Happy Friday everyone!!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Playing With Antiquing Medium

My Mama had this plaster artichoke which was originally painted gray.
I decided to use it in the guest room, but gray was not going to work with
my color scheme.  I decided to paint it an off white.  I liked it, but also
thought it looked a bit flat.

I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some antiquing medium.  It's 
a great product.  It is very inexpensive, cleans up with water, and a
little bit goes a long, long way.  

You simply apply with a sponge applicator, then quickly wipe off.
It's best to only work on a small area at one time.  I just lightly 
applied the medium only in the area I wanted, then wiped off with
a soft cotton cloth.   It was actually a lot of fun.

Here is the finished product.  The antiquing medium added some
depth and aging to the piece making it a bit more interesting.
Hmm, I wonder what I will age next?

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sherry Chicken Saute Recipe

I started entered young adulthood with absolutely no domestic skills, none,
zero, zip!  After my parents dropped me off at my college dorm, I
was clueless.  It's not that I was going to be cooking, because I was on
the college meal plan, but other than making my bed, I was useless.
I didn't even know how to do laundry.   This is not something I am proud
of, it is fact.  In my young life, I sent my clothes down the laundry shoot
to the basement and they magically arrived back folded and placed 
in my dresser drawers, or hung up in the closet.   Fortunately for me,
I was not the only one in my dorm who was a pampered princess.  
One of the upperclass girls was assigned to give a group of us
instructions on how to use a washing machine and dryer.  Laundry 101
was how we lovingly referred to it.  Fortunately, or unfortunately,
I was not the only sheltered girl on campus.  There was another 
freshman who had never "drawn her own bath".  She came knocking
on our dorm room door the first night and asked us for help.  Now
this was something I could handle and was only too happy to 
show her how it was done.  

So now you know that my domestic skills were lacking,
and hence I had no ability in the kitchen either.  I didn't even
know how to bake cookies!  Shameful, I know.  Since I was
a novice on that front as well, after college, my family members
decided it was time for me to start learning to cook as well
as wash clothes.  My Mama passed down her recipe box with
mostly blank index cards and a few of her beloved recipes
handwritten and filed away.

I started collecting recipes from friends, and magazines and family
members.  Little by little, the box started to fill up, and my skills
in the kitchen began to grow.  I discovered that I liked to cook.

This is a long introduction to a recipe, but there is a reason for that too.
Notice how splattered this recipe card is.  It dates back to my early
days of food prep.  I was always referring to the recipe as I cooked,
and back in those days, in a tiny apartment, space was limited and
the recipe was right next to the stove.   I have old cookbooks that
look like this too ;-)

Sherry-Chicken Saute is an oldie.  

4 Chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1/2 Clove Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup plus 2 T olive oil
1/4 Cup plus 2 T Red Wine Vinegar
2 T chopped fresh Parsley
1 t dried whole Tarragon
1/2 Cup Sherry
Salt & Pepper

Saute the chicken in EVOO until lightly browned.  Add garlic
and saute lightly, but do not burn.  Remove chicken to a plate
and add the red wine vinegar, parsley, tarragon, sherry and 
salt and pepper to skillet.  Put chicken back in the pan, cover,
and turn heat to simmer for 20 minutes.  

The original recipe does not call for this step, but do add it
because it will intensify the flavor of the sauce.  Remove the
chicken to a plate and cover with foil.  Increase heat under 
sauce and let it reduce a bit.  This step will intensify the
flavor and add more zip to the sauce.  

Plate the chicken and pour the sauce over it.  

This old recipe was recently remembered by me and will be on
the chicken menu rotation once again.  It's quick, easy and tasty
Truly a 30 minute meal.

Hmm ... I wonder what other recipes are in this box that I 
have forgotten about???

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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