Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bye Bye January ~ Not Too Sad to See You Go!

Hi y'all!  Well, we made it through January.  January is not a favorite month
of mine.  It's after Christmas and there is a lull after all the festivity of the
season.  It's usually cold ~ even here in South Texas.  I try to look on the
bright side, so I have been able to wear sweaters and burn fires in the 
fireplace.  However, I am starting to long for spring.  Now, I may well
regret that because after spring comes the long, long, long, hot summer
days of South Texas, but I'll take the chance and give in to a tad bit
of Spring longing.

I spent four hours working in the yard yesterday.  We had two days of 
a cold snap that froze all the Ginger again.  My lawn man doesn't have
time to cut all the ginger back.  I think that secretly he doesn't want to do
it because he told me that we might have to give up on tropicals and 
plant something that will withstand a freeze.

So, back outside I will be once again, lathered up with SPF 50, my
sun protection hat, sweats, gardening gloves and clogs, hoping that
I don't run into any snakes when I am making my way through the
clean up.

Wish me luck ;-)

I am itching to show you some Valentine's Day decorating, but I am holding
off until February.  I don't want to rush things and make time fly by any
faster than it already does, so hang on ~ it's coming!  

I must tell you my big accomplishment for the month of January.  I 
decided to have a Dry January.  This has become a tradition in England
to give the liver a rest after the holidays.  I have not had a glass of wine 
since New Year's Day, and it's been so easy for me that I am thinking 
about abstaining for February too.  I get a thrill out of conquering small
challenges.  So, my next challenge is to memorize Bible passages.
I have never done this before, but I am enjoying this challenge so much.
I will give you more information about this later this week.  Until then, 
it's back outside to tackle cutting down the Ginger that froze.  It will
all grow back, so I am not worried about it.   Have a great day!

PS: Bentley will be taking his sun bath in the garden while I am
hard at work.  He sure does have it easy :-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Feeling So Disorganized

For some reason I am feeling very disorganized.  At the moment, the only
spot in my house that does not seem to be chaotic is my foyer.  Well, that
is not exactly true because I want to find a new front door.  The current one,
which I believe is original to this 69 year old house, does not have a window
in it.  That would not be a problem except for the fact that the foyer does
not have any windows, so I always need to leave a lamp on, even in the
daytime.  Wait a minute ~ this is not a 69 year old house anymore.  It's now
a 70 year old house because it was built in 1948!

So there you have it, another project on the list of many.  I have no idea
why I am so unable to make a decision lately, but it's really giving me
a headache.  I could either choose to do nothing and go read a book,
or I could get busy and make a list and start crossing things off.  The 
decision to do nothing always ends up being a bad decision, so I best
forge on.

The most pressing issue at the moment in a new dishwasher.  Which
one do I choose, Bosch or KitchenAid?  That's the choice, so please
don't confuse me by suggesting others or I will have to take to my bed!
Isn't that what women used to do in historical books?  

When I first started looking at dishwashers, I became very fond of
the Miele brand.  Problem is, that brand is not sold here in Victoria.
Even if it were sold here, no one here can repair one.  It is also more 
difficult to find a repairman for Bosch here in town.  That being said,
it sounds like I have found my answer.  Now I can scratch that
decision off the list.

This foyer is beginning to feel like a waiting room.  It's the waiting room
for my own decision making.

So after the dishwasher is installed, and that fence has been jumped, I
need to place an order for the new flooring for the kitchen.  The reason
for the new flooring is that the old dishwasher leaked and buckled the
floor in the kitchen.  I am putting down an antique brick floor.  I have
been a bit reluctant to start this because of Bentley.  He has been 
adjusting to his loss of sight, and I have not wanted to confuse him
even more.  Over the past month, he seems to have made great
strides in his navigation around the house, and especially out in the
backyard.  I know that moving all the furniture out of the breakfast
room and having guys in here doing the installation will be tough
on him.  As much as I understand how chaotic this will be for him,
I also realize that putting it off any longer won't necessarily make it
any easier for him.

The next project we have been kicking around for a while, is a pool in 
the backyard.  We still have not decided exactly where it is going to
be placed.  We need to add some privacy and safety elements and I 
have been looking at options for that.  The pool and new fencing 
projects will be especially invasive, another hurdle for Bentley, and
I worry about that too.  

Yet another project is pulling out the carpet in the living room.  I really
hate carpet.  I hate vacuuming it and don't want to have to shampoo it
every month.  I find the more it is cleaned, the more often it needs to be
cleaned.  The hardwoods in the foyer extend into the living room.  We
don't know the condition of the flooring under the carpet, but I imagine
it will need to be either refinished or buffed out.  Another big project.
Then there is the dining room.  The previous owner extended the dark
prefinished flooring that is in the kitchen and breakfast room, into the
dining room.  It's pretty, but I want the living and dining room to match.
I'm not sure why they made those decisions.  I think they were too easily
influenced by other's suggestions when they attempted to modernize the
house when they put it on the market.  

The original hardwood flooring is in the master bedroom too.  At the
moment there is carpet in that room and in the hallway at the 
entrance of the master suite and into the dressing room.  I want it
gone.  I know that some people like carpet in a bedroom, but I 
would rather have large area rugs.  

I won't even get into the fact that I need to have the electrician come
out and increase the size of our main breaker box so we can put in
a pool.  Nor will I discuss having to get the sprinkler guy in to redo
the backyard, or the tree trimmer .... etc.  

That's why I am sitting in the foyer.  Trying to organize my thoughts,
make some decisions, and get this train rolling.  Thanks for listening!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How I Finally Got a Great Night's Sleep

For a very long time, my restless and sleepless nights have been my
pattern.  There are days when I just felt like I was dragging myself 
around.  I know I am not alone because I have read the stats on how
poorly we all are sleeping.  

One thing that has started to improve my nightly rest is my FitBit.
I have been wearing a FitBit for over a year, but it has just been 
recently (the past five weeks) that I have been faithful about getting 
in my 10,000 steps per day, seven days per week.  I have noticed that
I fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.  However, I was
still waking up in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I fall 
back asleep, but other times I would be awake for a while.

The second thing that has helped me to sleep better is I have
been practicing Dry January.  I have not had a glass of wine or
any other alcohol since New Year's Day.  So, now I am on day
23 of no wine or spirits, and you know what ~ I don't miss it one
little bit.  I am drinking more water and I am feeling great!  In
fact, I am wondering if I should go another month.  David 
has been also practicing Dry January too, and he's doing great
as well.  One thing he mentioned, when we go out for lunch
or dinner on the weekends, the bill is much cheaper!

I have read all about the healthy sleep habits we should be practicing,
but do I really practice them .... well, to be honest, no, I do not.
Since I have adhered to the 10,000 steps per day, and no alcohol,
why not add another element to my regime.  

My new goal is to establish a regular bedtime.  No more 11:30,
midnight or later.  If I am going to wake up at 7:00 am, I need to
be sleeping at 11:00 pm.  In order to slow myself down and get
ready for a sound sleep, I will get the pj's on by 10:00pm,
turn off the TV in our bedroom, and (this is the hard one for me)
turn off my cell and move it away from the bed.  It can't even be on
my nightstand in the picture above.  It needs to be across the room
where any notices from Facebook, texts, Instagram, etc will not
arouse me.  

So last night I implemented this new schedule.  I was in bed
by 10:00 pm, read until 10:45 and turned out my light.  I 
slept until 7:00 am!  I feel so good this morning and I know
for sure that I have been missing the boat on this routine for
far too long.  This falls into the category of you know you 
should do something, but you don't and when you finally 
do it, you have your ah ha moment!

Give these tips a try and let me know if they help you.
Until then ~ may all your dreams be happy ones.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Just Say No to Drama

Do you know anyone who likes to create drama?  Someone who by
their words and actions likes to create a scene to bring attention to

Unfortunately, I have known some like this.  These kinds of trouble
makers can make life miserable, and the sad thing is that they 
enjoy it.  They love to stir the pot and then walk away and wait for
your reaction.  

I have the solution to those who are stuck in the middle of this
mess ~ two words ~ WALK AWAY!  Don't let yourself get dragged
down to their level.  

Don't think that will be easy, because it won't be.  They will find a
way to draw you back into their drama because it's their life's blood.
Stand tall and put your blinders on.  Refuse to be an actor in their
nasty little scripts.  

Drama can knock on my door all it wants, but I am not answering.
I have more important things to do and think about.  Go away!

Make your world a beautiful place, full of kindness and love.
You are a child of God.  Put on the armor He happily gives you.
Bring joy to this world, not sadness and certainly not unnecessary
drama!  Pray more, worry less.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 22, 2018

I Love Antique Green

I have gone through so many decorating stages in my life.  I went through
my very contemporary stage, then a boho stage, and then a very eclectic stage.

Somewhere along the line, I developed a love for American and British
antiques.  While I love red and of course blue, and use both colors
liberally in my home, I also love the restful antique or sage greens.

They well on their own, or paired with other more vibrant colors,
and used as a peaceful back drop.

This color was used much more often in the past than it seems to be
used today, and I think that is a shame.  Of course, trends come and go
and it's sure to find it's way back to the decorating scene once again.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley 

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Really Cute New Mug

Today's post is completely frivolous.  No hidden meanings, no preaching,
no thought provoking issues ...just a cuteness overload.

Saturday, David and I drove to SugarLand, just to the west of Houston.
It's about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive from our town.  Our main mission was
two fold.  One, go to Pappasito's for lunch and two, go to Costco for a
big stock up.  If you ever get a chance to go to Pappasito's, I highly
recommend the Grilled Salmon and Mango salad.  Delicious!

There is a Home Goods store near the First Colony mall.  Of course,
I had to stop in to "look around".  "Look Around" is an all purpose
term meaning, browsing with intent to purchase.  Well, the store was
both packed with shoppers and merchandise.  I purchased a new non-stick
skillet, some bath towels, some soft pink no slip padded hangers, two picture
frames and I spotted this adorable mug.

Trust me, I don't need this mug.  By no stretch of the imagination 
would this be a necessary purchase.  This would be a purchase just
for the shear happiness because I think it is so darn cute!

And the added bonus is this ....

the flip side says "Hello There"!   There was no way this mug was
going to be left behind, and into the cart it went.

Of course, then I thought, hmm, I wonder if they have more than one?

And they did!  Now, if you should stop by to spend some time with 
me in my studio, we can both have a cuteness overload mug for our
coffee or tea or whatever.

Ain't life grand?  Wishing you a wonderful day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Some Serious Soul Searching

For the past couple of months, I have been very restless and nothing I
did seemed to fulfill me.  Back in September, I went home to Chicago and
saw old friends and my dear cousins.  Following that trip, I was so happy
and elated about going home once again and spending time with those
I love.  It was great, and then the reality of my present life came back
to me.

Please don't get me wrong.  My present life is wonderful.  I have a
great husband who is everything to me.  I have adorable Bentley.
Bentley is my brave little soldier who finds his way every day despite
his blindness, and still brings me bottomless joy.  The problem is
with me and a feeling of emptiness that is unexplainable.  I have
been feeling emotionally restless, and physically restless too.  My
usual energy seemed to be diminishing.  I started feeling achy all the
time and tired too.  Little things would put me on edge and I felt
like nothing seemed to please me, not really anyway.  Oh, I can
put up a great front when necessary, but it's not heartfelt and is
just a cover up.

One day I was standing in line at Hobby Lobby.  A book caught my
eye.  I remembered hearing about it from a YouTube channel I
follow.  I grabbed the book and put it in my basket without even
looking at it.  When I returned home and unpacked my bag, I
thought to myself ... now what did you buy that for?

I am and have always been, a Christian.  I pray for myself and
for others.  What I didn't do was to spend time with Jesus.  I 
didn't take the time to talk to him and to then listen.  

I started reading this book each morning during December.  
I started to reflect upon the words on the page, and little by
little, changes started to surface.  This morning, after my
reading and meditation period, I began to realize what has been
wrong lately and why I was feeling so empty.  

I love this blog.  It has brought me so much enjoyment and a
chance to connect with such wonderful folks I would have
otherwise never known.  It has sparked my creativity and 
encouraged me to try new things.  These are good things, yet
recently I have noticed that I have not been loving this blog
as I once did.  Yes, I have been to this point before and I 
thought that perhaps just tweaking things a bit here and there
would generate more enthusiasm.  It did for a while, and then
I would once again loose interest.

I am not a magazine.  I am not a decorating guru.  I
will never be satisfied by just trying to keep up the 
traffic by giving you what you want to see.  There is more
to me than the superficial.  

What I have learned by listening over these past few 
weeks is that I have a message and I won't be satisfied 
until that message is shared.  Here is what I will tell you,
I have been tossing around ideas for a book for a long time.
I knew the subject for this book, but not how to get the
raw emotions down on the page.  I went back and forth
in my mind and struggled with the whole concept.  Today
I realized what I need to do, and how I need to do it.  I
cannot begin to tell you how relieved I feel.  I have a
mission.  It's my own personal one and not something
dictated by pop culture.  

While I write my novel, I will still be writing this blog.
What will change, is that Ash Tree Cottage will become
like a stream that meanders and takes us different places,
and will be a bit unpredictable.  

Thanks for listening to me babble.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 8, 2018

Winter Whites

After all the reds and greens of the holidays ....

it's nice to freshen up and create a clean slate ....

with winter whites.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Fairy Lights Stay!

All of the Christmas decorations are staying up past Epiphany.  I will
take everything down after that, except for the fairy lights in my
studio.  The fairy lights stay!  They make me feel happy and turn 
the room into such a magical spot!

I sure will miss the Christmas tree in the family room.  It's a beauty and
in still fresh and green.  We have enjoyed every moment we have spent
near it's warm glow.  By the way, I sprayed "snow" on the windows to
give the room a winter wonderland theme.  Last night we really did have
a freeze, so it was hard to tell this morning which frost was real and
which was pretend ;-)

I still have a few mornings to enjoy coffee from my Santa mug.  
He has brought some cheer into each day, and I will miss him
when I pack him away until next year.  Ah well, I suppose it's what
makes the season magical ~ but the fairy lights stay!!!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Best of 2017

Fall of 2017 went by so quickly as it always does.  We were living in
a bit of a fog following the devastating disaster brought to us by
Hurricane Harvey.  It has taken months for the clean up to be 
finished and many still are waiting for roof repairs or replacement.

Christmas brought some much needed joy to all of us.  I wasn't going
to do much decorating, but once I got started it turned out to be fun and
I just could not seem to know when to stop.  Do you ever feel that way?

David took quite a few days off and I have been enjoying having him
around.  He will be headed back to work tomorrow and I will miss
having uninterrupted time with him.   Bentley has enjoyed his constant
company too.

As you can see, I managed to decorate just about every nook and 
cranny.  Now the thought of packing is up seems daunting, but one 
of my New Year's resolutions is to take one thing at a time and 
not stress over the whole project at once.

My collection of Christmas decorations for the dollhouse has grown.
I have become totally smitten with miniatures, and that's a good thing
because I don't plan on buying any new furniture for my house, so
minis give me a creative decorating outlet.

I am not certain exactly why I feel this way, but I think that 2018 is going to
be a very good year.  I am sure that I feel this way because I have a real
sense of direction.  I will be revealing more of that in the coming days, and
am excited about the future.

My wish for you is for good health, much happiness and love, and 
all the good things life has to offer.

Happy New Year!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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