Thursday, May 25, 2017

An Idea for a New Craft Project


I recently had an idea for a wreath to hang on the door of my office/studio.
I decided to use tea pots and teacups as my theme, so I started hunting for
tea cups and then it dawned on me that a child size tea set would be ideal.
I went onto eBay and found this adorable set.  It arrived in the mail today.



This gardening wreath is what really got me dreaming about theme 
wreaths.  You may recall this one I shared on the blog a few weeks ago.



I spend so much time in my office, especially since I have been hard at
work doing research for my book ~ which by the way is a mystery ~ and
I am completely caught up in the personality of my protagonist and the
murder she attempts to solve.  Everything I have in this space is meant
to encourage my creative pursuits and it's truly my hideaway and I only
share it with Bentley.  I always have music playing in the background, and
I often have a cup of tea by my iMac, and Bentley is usually curled up
in his favorite chair by the window.   It's a shabby chic, cottage style 
type of Zen.  



It's a good spot for reading too and I keep a stack of some of my very 
favorite mysteries in the bookcase.  



For many years, I wondered and searched the answers to my longing to find
the true meaning of my life.  Now I know, and my my mind and my heart is
just over flowing with ideas.  I believe that this little room in my house has
been a conduit for all this creative activity and I treasure every moment I
spend here.



I hope to gather all the supplies I need to create this special wreath over
the weekend.  I plan to share it with you next week.  It will be a signal that
once you pass through the doorway and it's teacup wreath, you will be
entering my special creative Zen Zone where hopes and dreams come
to life.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley



Monday, May 22, 2017

Sometimes Life Can Be Bittersweet



Recently, David and I were talking about a couple who we knew years ago
before we were married.  We met this couple while sitting around the pool of
our apartment complex.  The four of us instantly hit it off and we started doing
lots of things together.  Their names were Ken and Kathy.




They were a well educated, professional couple who had been living
abroad with Marathon Oil and were now back in the states and living
at this complex full of upwardly mobile and mostly single twenty somethings.
There were barbecues and parties around the pool every weekend and 
Ken and Kathy just fit in and had fun for a time.  

They were married and we were engaged, so our days at the swinging
single apartment complex were numbered as we were all looking to put
down more permanent and stable roots.  They were looking for a house
to buy in the West University area and we were looking there too.  Kathy
found a house first and we spent Saturdays going to tag and garage sales
looking for things to fill up their home.




We still managed to do fun things together as a couple and I have
very fond memories of the time we all rented a condo down in Galveston
for Mardi Gras.  We stood in a huge crowd of people and listened to
Otis Day and the Knights sing the iconic song Shout.



Kathy and I sang our hearts out along with Otis.  It was so much
fun and I will never forget it!


Kathy is the one who helped me find this wonderful hutch that lives
in my breakfast room.  We found it at a garage sale in West University,
and it has been with me at our homes in Virginia and Idaho and now
back in Texas.  Kathy bought a vintage car for Ken and had it restored
as a surprise for him.  When it was finished, we all got dressed up and
drove the car on our way to dinner.   Fun times, great memories.




David accepted a new job in Virginia and after our wedding we took off
for our new life there leaving Ken and Kathy behind in Texas.  We managed
to stay in touch and visited with them the first couple times we came 
back to Houston for a visit.  Then they moved again and we moved to
Idaho and unfortunately, the four of us loss touch.  

A week or so ago, David and I were sitting around talking and the
subject of Ken and Kathy came up.  I was determined to find them and
discovered an address for them in one of the coastal towns on the
Texas Gulf coast.  We found a Facebook page for Ken and so David
sent him a message.


Ken responded, but the news he shared was sad.   He lost Kathy a couple
of years ago.  He lost a wife, and we lost an old friend.  Oh how I wish we
had searched for them sooner.  

I have been thinking of Kathy since I heard the news yesterday.  She was
a sweet, cheerful and fun loving person.  I have such fond memories of
her.  Kathy, if you can hear me now, one more time, this one is for you ...



Till we meet again.  I hope that we can sing to this song
together in Heaven.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley







Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Care For Free!


Here is a photo of me back in my twenties visiting the ruins of the
old fort in Manama, Bahrain.  I was young and beautiful.  No, I am not
bragging, everyone is beautiful in their twenties.  Super slim, long hair,
deep dark tan. Young, beautiful and stupid!  Why stupid?  Because 
here I am standing out in the hot and blistering sun in midday and no doubt,
not wearing sunscreen!  My idea of skin care back then was a quick shower,
throwing on some lotion, shorts and a tee and heading out the door.  I,
like others who are young, thought I had all the time in the world and
that aging was just not in my future.

Jump ahead to 2017 and I have a completely different perspective.
Now I take care of myself and learn all I can to slow down the 
aging process.  So, let me share with you what I have learned 
about how to care for your skin and slow down and help prevent
the dreaded wrinkles and sagging that the passing of the years
can bring.

First of all, not everything we do to look younger must have a big
price tag.  Many of the things we can tweak to make us look
younger are free or close to being free!




1.  SLEEP BABY SLEEP

During sleep our bodies repair tissues.  Sleeping less than 7 hours per
night can prevent us from rebuilding the collagen that keeps wrinkles
at bay and helps to prevent the dreaded sag.  Sleep heals and restores and
aids in flushing out toxins.  How can we help ourselves to get a good
night's sleep?  Turn off the TV (I know that most of us have them in our
bedrooms) because the TV is not our bedtime friend.  Keep the room as
dark as possible.  Get a sleep mask to block out the light from clocks,
street lights, etc.  A sleep mask works wonders for me.

Also, sleep on your back if you can.  Dreaded chest wrinkles can be
avoided by doing this one little thing.  I try to do it, but so far I have
been unsuccessful.  I start out on my back, but during the night I end
up on my side.  Hopefully, you will have more luck than I.




2.  ADD SUPER FOODS TO YOUR DIET

I start almost every day with a bowl of slow cooked oatmeal and
a handful (well, more than a handful because I am an overachiever)
of berries.  I love raspberries and blueberries.  I buy frozen because
they are picked ripe and freezing keeps their vital nutrients fresher
longer.  



Learn to love salmon.  It's on every anti-aging diet regimen I have
read.  Get it fresh, frozen or canned.  Grill it, bake it, use it in salads.
Salmon is heart healthy and full of Omegas that help keep our skin
plump and happy.



Eat your leafy green veggies.  My husband will be cringing right
now if he is reading this.  He is not a fan, but I am, so I often eat veggies
for lunch.  

Other super foods are walnuts and almonds.  Other fatty fishes like 
tuna and sardines.  Slow cooked oatmeal is good too.  

While on the subject of superfoods, let's talk about wine.  There are
many studies that show that the resveratrol in red wine is beneficial
to our health.  I am not disputing those studies, however I also know
that too much of a good thing can be bad for us and will be wrinkle
producing.  Alcohol in all forms is dehydrating and we need to
remember the old saying from biology class ~ a turgid cell is a happy
cell.  Let's keep those skin cells fat and happy!  So, limit that glass
of wine or spirits to one, or not at all.  We want to always be
friendly to our livers too if we want it to keep clearing out the toxins.

Also, cut back on sugar.  Sugar is not our friend in the anti-aging
battle!




3.  SLATHER ON THAT SUNSCREEN!

There is no doubt that the very most important anti-aging skin care
we can purchase is sunscreen.  We need to wear it every day, all day,
365 days a year.  It doesn't matter if it's cloudy because the rays of
the sun sneak right through and onto our skin.  Although we are 
talking about wrinkles here, we want to prevent skin cancer too.
Don't forget to reapply!



4. LEARN TO LOVE HATS

Last summer when we were staying up in Austin at the Barton Creek Resort,
David bought me this hat with UVA protection built into the fibers.  I wear it 
when I am working out in the garden along with my sun glasses and my
sunscreen.  Lots of long sleeve swim shirts come with UVA protection in 
the fabric fibers also.  Check them out!



5. EXERCISE!!!

Exercise keeps us lean and limber.  It aids with keeping our bones strong 
and our hearts healthy, but did you know that it also thickens our dermis?
Well it does and a thicker dermis means less wrinkling and sagging.  
The outer layer of our skin ~ the stratum corneum, is what we see when we
look in the mirror. The dermis lies underneath providing support for what
we see.  As we age, this dermis gets thinner and loses its cushioning
effect.  The good news is that no matter what our age right now, we
can build up our dermis with exercise and we can do it in just a few 
short months!!!  I am going to send you to this LINK where you can
read for yourself.  Now you have no excuse not to exercise if you are
serious about keeping your skin looking beautiful.

Next time I will talk about lotions and potions that help to
turn back the clock, but remember that although there are
products that we can slather on our skin to help us to look younger,
a good healthy foundation is what we all need.  No lotion or
potion will help us look younger if we don't sleep, eat a 
healthy diet, forget to protect our skin from the sun and refuse to
exercise.  

We all want our houses to look their best and we want to 
look our personal best too.  To give you a jump start on this 
process I want to introduce you to my favorite YouTube anti-aging
personality, Angie from Hot and Flashy Over 50.  Some of
you already know her, and if you do not, you will find her
no nonsense approach to anti-aging refreshing.  You can read
her blog HERE and you may visit her YouTube channel

Every 28 days we have a chance to build healthier and younger
looking skin.  It's never too late to get on track!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley










Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Let's Talk Wrinkles Over Lunch in the Garden


Let's have lunch in the garden because in a week or two it will probably
too hot to sit out here.  Normally, I like to set tables with either a blue
and white theme, or a red and white theme, but in the garden I love
to use pinks and greens.  My potted geranium is doing well right now.  It's
one of the few flowers that will last through the scorching hot days ahead.



The pinks and greens look so pretty out here.  They look fresh and
young and sweet.  

Lately I have been thinking about how fast the days go by and what
lies ahead for me.  I was chatting with a childhood friend last week and
we were discussing the news that yet another old school mate had passed
away.  The death of a peer is hard to accept.  What happened?  Why
so young?  It certainly makes me think about my own mortality and
the quality of my life.

Aging I suppose, is inevitable, and I don't know about you, but
I am working on preserving what I have for as long as I can. 




Like this geranium, I want to stay healthy and vibrant and full of
life for as long as I can.  So starting tomorrow, I want to start sharing
what I have learned about health and beauty and how to preserve it.
I'm not talking about looking and dressing like a 20 something forever,
but looking and feeling good for as long as we can.  

Several years ago, while still living back in Idaho, I was in
the Boise Co-Op's supplement department and started chatting
with an older woman.  She confessed to me that she was in her 80's
and I was stunned at how beautiful her skin still was and she was
so youthful and vibrant that I knew I wanted to look like her one day.
She shared with me that she never thought about her age, and only
thought about eating a healthy diet and walked every single day
rain or shine.  She told me that staying active and interested in life
was her key to remaining youthful.



I have done quite a bit of research on skin care and diet and want to 
share what I have learned with you.  I hope you will feel free to add to
the discussion too.  What really prompted me to bring this topic up
was Katie over at Let's Add Sprinkles who posted on Facebook that
she had a dream about hooded eyes.  I commented about a YouTube
channel I watch and Laura over at White Spray Paint watches the same
channel and others as well.  Anti-aging skin care and make-up tips are
something many of us are interested in, so let's share what we have
learned!  See you back here tomorrow.


Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley






Monday, May 15, 2017

Southern Charm, Southern Gossip






Here's what's common in the South ~ grandma's rocking chair on the
porch, sweet tea, slow cooked ribs, green beans with bacon and onion,
and gossip!


Even if you are from a big, sophisticated city up North, you will soon
find yourself caught up in the colorful local tales.  In my small city, everyone
seems to know everyone else going back for generations.  This is not the 
kind of gossip that is limited to the older generation.  Twenty somethings
know who is who, and what happened to whom, and so on.  It's a tradition
that is cherished and nurtured from one generation to the next.  No one is
immune and men gossip too.



Of course it does help that there seems to be a large pool of very 
colorful, larger than life type characters.  How do they evolve I wonder?
Is it the hot sun and the steamy nights that breeds fascinating
characteristics in a person?  Does the relentless heat slow everyone
down so much that people pay much closer attention to what one
is doing, and with whom?  


While I find it all quite fascinating, I am very careful not to be too active
a participant.   I'm currently just sitting back and enjoying the drama.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley






Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Daisy Gardenias


I stopped by a favorite nursery on Saturday and found two 
Daisy Gardenia bushes.  I have placed them in the large planter
boxes on either side of the garden steps leading up to the French
doors of the guest bedroom.  This area is just off the patio and is
reached by a flagstone path.  

The blossoms are a bit smaller than on a standard Gardenia bush,
 and they turn to a pale yellow as they start to fade.  My are they
fragrant!  The entire patio is blessed by their perfume.



Look at their sweet faces.  They tolerate partial shade which is just perfect
for this area.  They bloom from mid May through July.  



My Impatiens are doing well so far.  I have to watch them carefully
because the snails love them.  A woman at the nursery told me to 
sprinkle salt around the plants and the snails will not bother them.  I 
hope this technique works.  I don't like to use snail bait because it
is deadly for the birds.



Speaking of birds, I am trying to attract more hummingbirds to the
garden, so I planted this trailing Vinca.



The weather here is crazy today.  Lots of wind blowing moisture up
from the Gulf of Mexico which is predicted to create havoc when it
meets with the cold front that is working its way down to west Texas
from Colorado and New Mexico.  Hope we can avoid it!


Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, May 8, 2017

My Love Affair With The Lamp


I'm not quite sure exactly when my love affair with lamps began, but
I know that it has been a very long and lasting relationship.  Every lamp
I have ever loved has possessed a distinct one of a kind personality.
I have lots and lots of lamps.  David loves to tease me about how
many we have, but I can't seem to help myself when I see one that
I think is unique and adds an extra bit of charm to a room.  



In our family room, den, great room, or whatever you choose to call
it, I have lots of lamps that are designed to give the room the old 
English country house look.  There are lots of corners to grab a book
and curl up by the soft glow of an old lamp.



There are lamps that give warmth to nooks and crannies.



A lamp that shines over the shoulder unto the Wall Street Journal
or a good book, or to complete the crossword puzzle.



A lamp that lights up a table between two easy chairs.




Of course there is a bit of an equestrian theme going on here too.



And here.




And here ....




And here too.  


So that's our room with lamps aglow.  It's cloudy out today, so we
really need the extra light.


Before it begins to rain (always a possibility) I am going to head out
to the garden to pot some flowers to attract and feed the hummingbirds.
Until next time!


Bentley ~ it's your job this afternoon to chase away the squirrels
from the feeder so that the birds can eat too.  I know Bentley will
gladly accept the job.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley









Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Recent Creative Slump


It's been a whole week since I have posted and I really do not have a
good excuse except to say that I have been in a creative slump.
This is not a normal state for me.  I am usually overflowing with ideas
and plans and I can hardly wait to get up in the morning and get to
work to bring these plans to fruition.

Lately ~ nothing.  Nothing at all.  I have not been physically ill, or
sad or depressed,  I am fine.  I haven't even felt like discussing anything.

However, I have played in my garden.  I have been reading.  I have
watched old movies and taken Bentley on long walks.  



But yesterday, I noticed that some creativity was starting to bubble 
up.  I felt the usual restlessness spirit starting to rise up within me.
It was wonderful!  I started gathering things up to make something.
Whenever that happens, I seem to start out in one direction and then
suddenly change gears and head another way and there is just no
stopping me.  

So I pulled out an old grapevine wreath.  I started to add little 
gardening items.  I was playing.  I was having fun.  My muse
had returned!  



Whenever I go into this creative frenzy, I remind myself of Richard
Dreyfus's character in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
when he starts ripping out the shrubs in the garden and dumps  
dirt into the dining room to build a reproduction of the Devil's Tower
in Wyoming on the dining room table.  The only difference is that I
have not been visited by extraterrestrials.  At least I don't believe that
I have ;-)

Whatever it is, I am happy to be back here!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

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