Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why I Am So Grateful

I have been very fortunate.  Yes, I have suffered heartache during
my life, but we all do at one time or another.  Rather than focus
on loss and heartache, I am choosing to focus on what is right and
good about my life.  Certainly, this time of year causes us to
reflect on our blessings.

I have been blessed with loving family and friends throughout
my life.  I am especially grateful for the dear friends and family
members I spent time with this past September.  It was so
wonderful to go back home to Chicago and see dear friends,
my beloved cousins and my college roommate.  It was a wonderful
and memorable reunion that lives in my memory.

I am grateful that we survived Hurricane Harvey.  It was an extremely
frightening storm that caused so much devastation.  Yes, we lost a lot
of tree limbs and we are still recovering from the damage to our yard,
but our house was spared and we are fine.  So many had it much
worse than we did.  

Our beloved little Bentley lost his vision this year.  It was hard on all of us
at first, but he has adjusted so well and is still happy and enjoying his life.
He will be twelve years old next month, and we are so grateful to have him
with us every day.  He is a true blessing.

We are blessed to have a lovely home that is our refuge from the busy
outside world.  

We are healthy and have no health worries.  In fact, we have no
worries at all.  

Most importantly, we have each other.  David and Bentley and I 
are a small family, but a very happy and content one.  For that,
I am so very grateful.  

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  May you all feel as
blessed as we do.  I will see you after the holiday weekend is
over.  Have fun, be safe, and enjoy those closest to you.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Yummy and Delicious Lunch Ideas

I am not a big sandwich eater.  I like them, but not too often.  What I 
really enjoy for lunch is something healthy and flavorful.  Today, I have
three choices for you that are favorites of mine.

First up is this baked sweet potato.  A couple of weeks ago, I was having
lunch with my hubby at Jason's Deli.  I had a baked sweet potato, filled 
with lightly sauteed baby spinach and topped with shaved Asiago cheese.


I love that this combo is packed with vitamins, minerals and lots
of flavor.   If you are not a big fan of spinach, you could just
bake a sweet potato and top with the Asiago and that is good too.

This next option is a mix of roasted veggies over baby spinach (there's
that spinach again) and served with a side of brown lentils.  I just roast 
whatever veggies I have in the fridge.  I drizzle this with some olive
oil and a splash of lemon juice.  

Cooking lentils is easy.  I take 1/2 cup of dried brown lentils, rinse
well under cold water, then add to a saucepan filled with 1 cup of
water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
Any leftover lentils will happily live in the fridge for about a week.
Use them in salads or add to soup stock.

This a a big salad with hearts of Romaine, sliced grape tomatoes, 
seedless Kalamata olives, a little bit of sliced red onion, blue cheese 
crumbles and croutons.  Toss with a light vinaigrette, I make my
own with Balsamic vinegar, EVOO, S&P.  

These lunches will fill you up, give you energy and keep
your waistline slim.  Enjoy!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Creative Process

I was very fortunate when I was a child because my parents never 
harnessed my creative spirit.  There were art projects of mine all over
the house.  Most of the time I was building houses.  I used the standard
kid's building sets but I also raided Daddy's wood stash and old paper
bags from the kitchen.  Sometimes there were little paper bag house 
villages scattered all over the family room and one had to be careful 
where to step.  Surprisingly, my very neat and organized Mama was
not a bit bothered by what some would consider a mess.  When her
girl friends would stop by they would ask her if my all my projects
bothered her, and she said no.  She understood that my little mind
was working 24/7 on important projects, and that she was fine with
it as long as I was happy.

I lived with the Moto ~ If you can dream it, you can make it.
I didn't understand the term mantra back then, but that is
what it was, my own creative mantra.

When I wasn't building little villages, I was creating costumes
for myself.  When I came home from school each day, instead of 
putting on my play clothes, I put on one of my costumes.  Most 
often I was a cowgirl, but sometimes I would dress like people 
from other lands.  Once after Daddy returned from a business trip
to India, I made a sari out of an old pillowcase and put on a stack
of my Mama's bracelets and drew a dot on my forehead.  I wore 
that outfit for days.  My poor parents never knew what to expect.

I also learned that creativity could be very persuasive.  When I was
seven years old, I wanted a pair of penny loafers like all the big girls
had.  I was still wearing some Oxford tie up shoe because my Mama
was very careful about my growing foot and did not want me wearing
any shoe without enough support.  I pleaded for loafers, but Mama 
said I had to wait a couple of years.  Don't ask about her reasoning,
 there was no arguing with her.  

I decided that the best way for me to have a pair of loafers was to
make my own.  So, one day after school, I took brown construction
paper, scissors, tape and 2 pennies and made my own Paper Loafers.
I worked very hard on them all the way to dinner time.  After 
dinner I raced back to my room to finish my shoes.  I finished them
by bedtime.  I was so excited about them and wanted to wear them
around, but I was supposed to be in bed.  I took one of my Mama's
cosmetic mirrors and set it up on the floor like the ones in shoe stores.
I said goodnight to Mama and Daddy and closed my bedroom door.

I was walking around my bedroom and admiring the paper
loafers on my feet when I heard a knock on the door.  It was
Daddy.  He could see the like shining under the door and wanted
to know why I was still awake.  He came in and saw me modeling
my shoes in the cosmetic mirror.  When he asked me what I was
doing, I had to explain the whole situation.  I am sure he was
laughing to himself, but he didn't let on.  

Although I never begged for or cried about real loafers.  My
approach was unknowingly subtle.  Daddy convinced my Mama that
if I wanted the shoes so badly that I would resort to making my own,
that perhaps I could have some real ones, but only wear them for 
limited periods of time and not to school.

Years later, I went to a counselor who specialized in discovering 
the best professional field for individuals.  My first assignment was to
write about my first major achievement before the age of ten.   I
wrote about my paper loafers.  She told me that in all of her years
handing out this same assignment, she never read a paper like mine.
Her conclusion ~ I should be in advertising!  She said if I could 
so calmly and easily convince my parents to change their minds,
I must have the knack to do it as a profession.  

I actually did spend some time in advertising :-)

What I have learned about creativity is this ~ we are all creative.  Each
of us has a spark of uniqueness.  We don't have to be professional artists, we
just need to let the inner child come out and play once and a while.  I
assure you, it's the most therapeutic activity you will ever do.  Let your
mind wander and your spirit soar.  Don't be your own worst critic.  Just
have fun.

Okay, I am going to end this blog post right here and go hang some
wallpaper in one of my miniature rooms.  Have a great day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cozy at Home Fall Mornings

I love a cozy Fall morning.  It's cool and gray outside, so I walk around
the house, turning on some lamps to bring a glow to all the nooks
and crannies.  In the Fall, there are two times of day I love, the mornings
just around sunrise, and the evenings at sunset.  The house looks
especially cozy to me at those hours.  

Favorite spots where we love to sit and read the paper.  Looking for good 
news, and for me at least, avoiding the bad.  Going through the style
section and looking for recipes.  Cooking takes on a special charm for
me at this time of year.  This past Sunday I made the first pot roast of
the season.  When David came home from playing golf, there was
the wonderful aroma of something in the oven.  Pot roast with 
carrots and onions over wide egg noodles is one of his favorite
meals.  To me, a perfect Sunday is pot roast in the oven and football
on TV.  

This is my favorite cool weather cozy breakfast, a big bowl of hot
oatmeal topped with blueberries. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope y'all have a great day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, November 6, 2017

I Grieve For Our Nation

Another mass shooting.  This time in Texas, not far from where I live.
The city I live in is a small one.  It is referred to as the Crossroads area.
We are surrounded by ranch land, oil wells and some of the most 
charming small towns found anywhere in our country.  We are one
hundred miles away from each of these three cities, Houston, Austin,
and San Antonio.  It is always a pleasure to take a drive from our
home to any one of these three major cities because the scenery is
often so bucolic.  In the spring, you see miles and miles of 
Bluebonnets and the Indian Paint wildflower in the fields where
Longhorn and a huge variety of other types of cattle graze.
It's a sight to see, and I treasure these views.

You will also find some of the prettiest old courthouses anywhere.
Tiny little towns, with small populations and it's as though
each one competed to have the loveliest courthouse. 

There is a wonderful variety of small and independent restaurants.  
Places that seem to turn back the clock and give the diners a sense
of home cooking how it used to be.

Miles and miles of country roads that are usually very quiet, except for the days
during the Round Top Antique Week.

One does not expect a tragedy of such proportion as we learned of
yesterday in Sutherland Springs.  A very small town on the way to San
Antonio on Route 87.  A highway that we have traveled on so very
many times.  Such a small little place where everyone knows one
each other.  The kind of place that we all dream about, where life
is so peaceful and idyllic.  The residents of this small town will 
be forever heartbroken becasue of the tragic events of yesterday.

For years now, since that fateful day of September, 11, 2001, we 
have assumed our foes lived outside this nation.  Now we are
learning that the foes are right here, fellow citizens living among us.

I spent three years living and working in a foreign country.  It
was very exciting and I would not trade my experience for 
anything.  When my time there was completed and I returned
home, I was so happy and proud to come home to the land
I have always loved so much.  I never imagined that life here
would become so violent, so troubled.  I am so very saddened
by the hatred and violence.  Why are we turning against one
another?  Why have the lives of so many innocents been lost?
Why is there such discontent in a land where we have so much?
I think of all those who have risked their lives to have the
opportunities this great nation provides, yet there are some who
just don't appreciate what we have and want to destroy
everything for themselves and others.  It breaks my heart.

Susan and Bentley


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