Friday, September 21, 2018

I Left My Heart in Virginia

Almost immediately after our wedding in Houston, the moving van
arrived and packed us up for our new home in Virginia.  I was so 
excited about moving to our new home in a state I loved so much.

Here I am behind the wheel of our Jeep Grand Wagoneer.  It was
one of those classics with the "wood" trim on the sides.   As I recall
when this photo was taken, I was driving through North Carolina, 
probably too fast, because I was so anxious to get home.

Fall always makes me nostalgic for this state.  The Fall festivals in
Northern Virginia were always fabulous, picture post card type 
events set in lovely little towns.  Oh how I long to be there right now.

My love affair with the state started in childhood.  My parents took many
trips to Virginia before I was born.  Then when I came along, the tradition
continued.  They took me to all the places they loved, seeing them all 
again through fresh new eyes.  I loved every minute of our trips through
Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville and Williamsburg.
I remember spending so much time in the pool at the Williamsburg Inn
that my skin shriveled.  It was heaven!

My home sweet home will always be the suburbs of Chicago's North
Shore.  I have lived in NYC and loved it,  the beautiful state of Idaho too,
and still own property up in the mountains there.  Now I am once again
back in Texas, but in my heart of hearts, I will always hold dear the
state of Virginia.  

I lived in horse country in the most beautiful and historic town
you can imagine.  Every day was magic there, like a village out
of a well loved fairy tale.  The cottage we lived in had views of
the Blue Ridge, a very old low stone wall around the property,
a little red barn out back where a fox made residence.  The drive
into town was seven miles of beautiful scenery through forest
and past beautiful horse farms and estates and over charming
one lane bridges.  Everything I dreamed about.  Enchanting!

Here I am in South Texas dreaming of a wonderful time of my life
back in Virginia where the season of Fall is displayed in all it's glory.
You will read much more about these glorious settings when the first book
of my mystery series is published.  

Thanks for spending time with me and sharing some wonderful memories.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, September 17, 2018

Putting My Life Back In Order

Last week was a blur because I wasn't feeling well.   I was afraid it 
might be serious because of the quick onset of chills, a fever, and
congestion in my lungs.  I know all too well the symptoms and signs
of pneumonia and or bronchitis.  Thankfully, that all seems to be
gone now.

When I feel sick, my normal routine is tossed aside and I feel
out of touch.  I'm working on getting back on track today.

Sorry I have been missing in action.  

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, September 7, 2018

Helpful Fall Decor Ideas

It's still in the 90's here and exceptionally humid.  This weather hardly
puts one in the Fall decorating mood.  I don't like to go Fall crazy
too soon, because it's not officially Fall just yet.  I am one of those
girls who like to ease into the season.  

Regardless of all this heel dragging and moaning, I probably
should start thinking about what I will do.  One thing I know 
for sure is that I don't want to go crazy creating Fall all over
the house.  It's fun putting it out, not so much fun putting
it all away.   That being said, I will just use Fall scented 
candles and some Mums inside and keep it all simple.

However ....

I am going to put all my focus on decorating the
She Shed, that beloved little spot that I have named
Sweet Tea Cottage.  I need a little nudge to
get me going, in other words ....

What Did I Do Last Year???

Thank goodness for archives.  I can refresh my 
little gray cells with ideas from the past.  

Are you that way too?  Do you forget some of your decorating
creations from the past, or are they always fresh in your

Earlier this past spring, I reorganized my seasonal decorating
storage and gave lots of things away.    I saved the absolute
favorites and that's it.  

Shortly I will bring out the boxes of Fall.  I am not exactly
sure of what I want to do, what my theme will be, but I 
am sure it will come to me as I start playing around.  It
is safe to say there will probably be a trip to Hobby Lobby
in my future ;-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Handling Daily Worries

My parents were perfectionists.  The house was always perfect.  Everything
in it's place all of the time.  In the morning, my Mama never hung around
in her bathrobe.  She would get up, make the bed and get dressed for the
day.  She fussed over her outfit and her hair.  She wore minimal make-up,
but she always looked polished and ready to face anything.  Daddy was
the same.  They also had perfect penmanship.  Every letter flawlessly
created to reflect their orderly lives.  They were also worriers, especially
my Mama.

I wonder if worrying is a genetic trait.  If it is, I have inherited the
tendency.  It's taken me a long time to realize that the things I 
have worried about over the years have never become a reality.
I have often heard the phrase let go and let God.  Knowing this to
be the wise choice, why have I often resisted to the temptation to
try to handle things without His help?  I start to believe that I
have some power on my own, when in reality I am barely a 
blip on the radar in this vast universe.  

Life becomes so much more peaceful when I hand over the reins.
I have to remind myself of this every single day.   

Years ago, while in college, I had a math professor that drew a 
square on the blackboard.  She asked us to imagine that this square
was a patch of grass and that each of us were walking from one 
corner to the other in a diagonal and creating a path.  The grass
under our feet would wear away, and the way to the corner became
ingrained in our minds.  That's what happened when math problems
were repeated.  Over time, we would automatically know the formulas
to solve any problem.

Each day I begin my own journey, from one corner to the other, not
solving math problems, but reminding myself that I must have faith
and not worry.  Hopefully one day the pathway will be so clear that
I won't even have to think about it.  It will be etched in my soul.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Happy 1st Day of September!

It's a three day holiday weekend!  Enjoy your Labor Day and
take some time out to relax.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, August 31, 2018

My Honey Didn't Do It Basket

For the past five years, I have wanted a shelf or two added to the 
closet that connects the kitchen with the breezeway and then out
to the garage.  This closet is where I store the vacuum, the indoor
trash container and the reusable bags for groceries.  I envisioned
these shelves for storing household cleaning items all neatly stacked
and easily accessible.  Shortly after we moved into the house, I 
mentioned my wish for shelves to my hubby.  

He measured.  We discussed.  He made notes.  He forgot about it.
Every time we had a long weekend, the subject came up again.
He then promptly forgot about it.

My husband is a very good one in many ways, but he does have his
priorities.  These are, golf, watching golf on TV, entering golf
tournaments, and talking about golf with his friends.

Sadly, for me .... the Honey Do List is not a priority.  I decided to
take the lack of shelving to task and create my own solution for
eliminating the overflowing cleaning items under the kitchen sink.

A CLEANING BASKET!  That's the ticket.  I love baskets.  I have
lots of them tucked away!  I can do this!!


So over this long holiday weekend, hubby can return to his priorities
and I have organized everything I need right here.  

Hmmm .... wonder what honey didn't do it task I can accomplish 

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hot and Bubbly Artichoke Dip

Every Saturday night has become a challenge.  My husband has
now come to expect Appetizer Saturday Night every weekend.
I think he must look forward to it all week.  I try to change the menu
each Saturday.  To be honest, it's tough coming up with new ideas
because I serve more than one appetizer and we snack on these in 
place of dinner.  

This past Saturday, I came up with an old favorite that I had
forgotten about ~ Hot Artichoke Dip.  It could not be easier and it
is very yummy.

1 small jar of artichoke hearts ~ I buy the ones in oil and then
drain that oil off.
Duke's Mayonnaise, or any other quality mayo.  A couple of big
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.  I mix this in with the dip.

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Stir.  Add this
to a ramekin or tiny baking dish.  I have used a cute little Le Cruset
oval casserole I found at a thrift shop years ago.  Sprinkle more
parmesan on top.  Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 
15 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly

Serve with crackers or toasted baguettes.

I also made some delicious puff pastry, prosciutto and honey mustard
pin wheels.  Very good and can be made ahead and frozen till you
need them.  This recipe is from Holly Holden and you can watch 
her instructional video next.  You may enjoy some of her design 
videos too.  We have the same passion for traditional design and
her home is gorgeous!

She loves horses as much as I do too!


Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, August 24, 2018

Really, Really, Longing For Fall

The garden around my potting shed is looking very sad now.  After
several months of extremely high temps, nothing looks the same.
I faithfully watered, twice on most days, but despite my best efforts,
everything suffered.  I have dug up all most of the plants now.  

The sad thing about living in South Texas is that spring comes early
and hopes for a beautiful garden run high.  It was pretty for a while
and oh how I enjoyed it.  Now it's just a memory.  Thank goodness
for photos.

I woke up this morning thinking of fall decor.  I plan to scale back
inside the house this year, and focus on the potting shed, she shed,
or whatever I am calling it now.  I intend to go to the max out here
and inside the shed too.  

As I start to think about what I will do both inside and outside of the 
shed, a thought occurred to me.  A very dangerous thought ....

brown transferware!

I don't have any and I might need some.  Just a couple of pieces to
incorporate into my decorating scheme.  This could very well be a 
slippery slope because I do have a dish addiction.  

I quickly changed my thoughts from transferware to scarecrows.
I will definitely need one of those.  Should I have a scarecrow man
or a scarecrow lady???

Whatever I decide to do, just thinking about cooler days makes
me happy.  It will happen, maybe not as soon as I would like,
but it will.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We Love Our Dogs!

I am proud to say that I am genetically predisposed to love dogs.
I have dog loving DNA!  

At the age of 5, Mama and Daddy brought home a puppy.  It
was a Scottie puppy named Bonnie.  Back then, while most of our
friends and neighbors had dogs, I don't think that society in general
was as crazy about dogs as we are today.  It's hard to sell a product
on television without a dog prominently featured somewhere.  Our
family was the exception.  We were crazy about our dogs.  They were
never "just" dogs, they were important members of the family.

I grew up listening to stories about all my Daddy's beloved dogs.
It wasn't just my Daddy who was crazy about them, everyone was.

Going through old family albums I see family members from several
generations ago with their dogs.  The beloved canine family members
went to the beach with them and on picnics.  They posed proudly in
family portraits around the Christmas tree.

It makes me wonder if there is a genetic marker for dog loving.
If there is, I certainly inherited it!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

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


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