Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring At Last!

Happy first day of Spring!  It is sunny outside today too.  What a bonus!
I was getting so tired of the gray, damp, and windy days.  I just stopped
in to say hi, and now I am back outside to do more yard work.  There is
nothing like playing in the dirt to lift one's spirits.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, March 18, 2019

Planning for Spring and Easter Decor

I have not been doing any big tablescapes lately, and now I am in the
mood to do something fun.  Wednesday is the first day of Spring and I
am so ready for it, and know you are too.  What better way to usher in
Spring than with a table all decked out and celebrating the season.

I found these darling Caspari beverage napkins when I was in Brenham
a couple of weeks ago.  My plan is to take white wooden eggs from
Hobby Lobby and decoupage them with the images.  I think it will be 
bright and cheerful, looking like Spring but not necessarily Easter.

The eggs in the carton are paper mâché.  I base coated them with happy
spring pastels and will be hand painting them next.  I am looking forward 
to a big scene with these eggs as a component.

The tree trimmers and the plumbers are gone.   Our yard man came to
cut the grass and pick up the leaves.  Hopefully most of them are down

The inflammation in my bronchial tubes has improved.  Now I am
having an issue with anemia.  It's a problem I have battled most of 
my life.  When it hits, I feel like staying in bed all day because I am
too exhausted to do much else.  I have added iron, B12 and C into my
diet in larger quantities and hopefully will be my usual self once again.
I am normally so healthy, but this Fall and Winter have been tough on
me.  I am looking forward to warmer and sunnier days more than 
ever before.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Calgon ~ Take Me Away!

Do y'all remember that ad from Calgon Bath Products?  Well, at the
moment I would love to be soaking in the tub and just letting the bubbles
take me away to a magical place that is peaceful and quiet.

For the past two days, I have been listening to the sound of chain 
saws and big chunks of oak tree limbs hit the ground.  The tree
trimmers are here to clip off all the suckers from the limbs and
to clean out the dead branches.  They started at 8 am yesterday 
morning and didn't quit until after 5 pm in the evening.  They 
shout from the ground ... "take more off there, a little to the right".
Many of the limbs hang over our roof, so I can hear the sound of
boots walking around. The same thing is going on today.

No tree is left untouched.  The crepe myrtles are getting a
haircut too.  There are five or six guys on the crew and they
are working really hard.  

Coincidentally, we have another plumbing problem no
doubt caused by the same huge trees.  I think that our
plumber has my cell phone number memorized.  Years ago,
before we bought this house, the same plumber convinced the
owners to install clean outs to make it easier to clean out any
roots that were making their way into the line.  So today in 
addition to all the chain saw noise, I am also hearing the 
roto rooter machine humming away.  It's turning out to 
be a bigger problem than originally thought, so don't know
when they will be done.

Meanwhile little Bentley is a bit confused.  He can hear all
of the commotion, but he just can't see it.   He has not been
able to freely explore his yard, and of course that does not
make him too happy.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Are You Ready to Roux?

The basis for most cajun cooking is the roux.  It's easy to make, but
it cannot be rushed.  

Gather two simple ingredients, a fat, and flour, equal portions of
each.  Melt butter over medium heat and slowly add the flour.  Keep
stirring to gently blend these two ingredients together.

You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon.  I generally switch to a spoon
once the flour and butter is combined.  As you can see in the photo above,
the roux is at a blonde stage.  This stage can be a base for cooking veggies
for a soup.

If you want to make a gumbo or another cajun dish, a darker roux will
add more depth of flavor.  It's not hard to get to this stage, but it takes
time and patience.  Keep stirring over a low heat.  This process will
generally take at least 30 minutes, and is dependent on the temperature
of your burner. The darker the roux, the more often it needs to be
stirred, so don't walk away and forget it.

At this point, add the "trinity" which is chopped onion, chopped
green pepper, and chopped celery.  You may add garlic too and a
cajun spice mixture.  It's your choice if you want to add shrimp, 
chicken, sausage or all three.  Make it your own.  Enjoy!

Have a safe and happy Mardi Gras!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, March 4, 2019

Road Trip to Brenham, Texas

This past Saturday, David and I were getting tired of sitting around
the house.  We had a serious case of cabin fever.  Our little town has been
stuck in one weather mode ~ cold, windy and rainy.  Too miserable to
do anything outside.  

We decided to take a little one day vacation and head north up the 
road to Round Top and then on to Brenham.  It really didn't seem like
a very good day for a road trip to Brenham because the weather was the
same as here, but sometimes just a change of scenery is uplifting.  So,
David, Bentley and I climbed into the SUV and headed up north.

Once you get to the outskirts of Victoria, you are in the country all
the way up route 77 to Round Top.  No bluebonnets yet, too cold,
but still the rolling ranch land I so enjoy seeing.  It was fairly foggy, but
that seemed to make the landscape all the prettier.

In a few weeks the towns of Warrenton and Round Top will be 
filled with tents and shoppers.  We decided it would be a good time
to take advantage of the lull, and stop at Royer's for some pie!

After collecting our pie for later in the evening, we headed on to 
Brenham.  I will warn you, this next portion of the blog post is photo
heavy, so I will stop chatting so much, and just let you enjoy.

We stopped at Hermann Furniture.  This is a wonderful store that has
been in business since 1876, and continuously run by the same family!
This store sells furniture, and fabulous accessories.  I just wanted everything!

Beautiful tablescapes.

Special bunnies for Easter.

Darling artwork.

Just look at this adorable watering can painting.

Lots of items in the blue willow motif.  Y'all know I love that!

Wonderful trays and accessories for entertaining.

A great selection of Caspari paper plates and napkins.

Cute tray.  I was tempted, but I am loaded with trays right now.

Check out this darling wrought iron cart.  Perfect for serving 
cocktails and wine on the veranda.

Adorable lamps, and well priced too.

Bed and table linens.

Love this wreath!

Look at these cute carrots!

Easter table accents and place cards.

What a fun store!  It was my first visit, but sure will not be my last.
If you want to learn more about this historic treasure, here is
the LINK.

Thanks for stopping by.  I will be back tomorrow to share a
Mardi Gras recipe with you.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, March 1, 2019

Happy First Day of March!

It's been very cool and very wet.  The kind of weather that drives us all
inside into our cozy homes.  Yet, Spring is on the way and is starting to
give us little glimpses of it's glory.  My azalea bushes around the patio
are beginning to slowly open their blossoms.

What a glorious sight!

Happy March 1st everyone!  Let spring be renewing and hopeful for
each of us.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

And The Project For Today Is ....

In my living room, over the sofa, are a pair of sconces that my Daddy
purchased at an estate sale in Rome back in the 1960's.  They are an
antiqued brass, and yes, they do need to be polished.  Daddy traveled 
internationally extensively for his job, and whenever he did, he always
looked for something special to bring home for Mama and for me.

These sconces really are lovely and I have wanted to find candles for
them for some time.  Mama did have candles for them once, but they
are long gone.  Tapered candles are not as popular as they once were,
and the options for sizes are more limited.  I found six candles that I think
will work, but the diameter of their bases is too wide.

By the way, the wall is really a pale yellow, but is not showing up
that way in the photo.  It looks more beige than cheery.

So the project for today is to whittle down the bases of these candles to
fit the sconces.  I also have some sticky wax to help secure them in 
place.  It's another gray and rainy day here, so this is a good time to get
this done.  Once the weather clears up, it's on to outdoor projects and
especially work on the She Shed.

Thank you for all your kind words about my illness.  I have really
started to feel better and I am truly relieved.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 25, 2019

Me? Asthma?

I shared with my Facebook friends how I have been struggling
physically for the last several months.  My allergies have become
much worse.  The sneezing has increased dramatically.  The stuffy
head has been with me all of the time.  I don't sleep well at night.

Then my bronchial tubes started to tighten, especially in the evening
after 5 PM.  It was hard for me to utter more than a few words out loud
before the coughing would begin.  

I've never run a fever, just overwhelming allergy symptoms.

I really felt like I was at the end of my rope and about to give in and
head for the doctor when I began to turn a corner this weekend.  For
two straight nights I have been able to breathe easily and to carry on a
conversation without coughing.  Today I have more energy than I have
had for weeks.  I feel so relieved.  I am getting my old life back.  

The old adage is true ~ if you don't have your health, you don't have

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Family Feuds

I suppose it has happened in every family.  I know that I have experienced
it too.  Family grudges carried on for years.  It's such a waste of precious
moments.  Hurtful words that can never be taken back.  The older we
become, the fewer opportunities we have to mend fences.

I am always saddened to hear of someone's family blow up.  I think to
myself, was this really necessary?  Why turn what is to supposed to
be a joyous occasion into one where family members are brought to

None of us want to regret the things we say.  

Just a thought for today.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Falling Leaves and Signs of Spring?

No, this is not Autumn, it's early Spring in South Texas.  The live oak
trees begin shedding their leaves, quickly to be replaced by new ones.  In
the meantime, it's raining leaves.  Y'all know what I will be doing for the
next week or so.

Last Fall I cut back my potted Hibiscus.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed
tiny buds of green showing.  Those buds are quickly becoming large leaves.
Spring is on it's way!

Thank you for all of your kind moments about Bentley's senior moments.
He is back to his usual self, following me around, cuddling whenever he
can get me to sit still for a minute, and enjoying life.  When Bentley is
happy, his mama is happy too.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, February 15, 2019

Bentley and His Senior Moments

First of all, I want to wish y'all a belated Happy Valentine's Day.  I have
come to know and love each of you who visit me, and I want you to
know how very dear your friendship has become.

I had planned a Valentine's Day post for yesterday, but didn't have the
time to post because I was busy with Bentley.  He is just about a couple
of months beyond age 13 now, and his age is beginning to show.  Most of
the time he is fine and manages with his blindness.  He eats well, and
loves his walks.  He doesn't seem to have any arthritic issues and is
generally quite healthy.  That being said, he has his occasional days
where he seems a bit confused and hyperactive.  He gets restless and
can't seems to sit still.  Yesterday was one of those days.  We spent
quite a bit of time outside in the yard because the weather was so
mild.  That seems to help him work off some excess energy.  He
spent time exploring and barking when he could hear the squirrels
running up and down the trees.  

I try to spend as much time with him as I can on these days.
I reassure him that I am close and he is safe and fine.  This does
seem to help.  He settled down in the late afternoon and took
a nap.  He seemed more like himself when his Daddy came home,
and they had their usual long greeting session together.

Today he seems fine.  In the past, the days when he is restless
are followed by many normal days.  Y'all know how very much 
I love this little peanut, and that he always comes first.   

I hope each of you had a special day with the ones you love.
I did with mine.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 11, 2019

Protecting My Heart Against Disease

This Valentine's Day week, I am reminded to take care of
my heart.  Some families suffer from cancer, mine suffers
from heart disease from both sides.  My maternal grandmother
died in her 60's from a heart attack.  My paternal grandfather
suffered from congestive heart failure for years until he
died from a heart attack at age 75.  My own Daddy had a
massive heart attack at age 51.  My Aunt had faulty heart
valves which required open heart surgery in her 80's.
My Mom suffered from congestive heart failure in her later

None of these family members looked or acted like heart
attack candidates.  All were thin, and all were quite 
physically active.  No couch potatoes here.  None of them
were heavy drinkers.  Both my Mom and my Aunt were
mindful of what they ate.  My paternal grandfather and my
Daddy ate way too many sweets.  Neither had high blood
sugar, but I don't think that anyone realized how dangerous
sugar really is, even if it does not show up as diabetes in
blood testing.  

I have reached a stage in my life where I need to be
careful and not eat anything I want, not because of 
vanity, but for underlying reasons.  I'm very tiny.  I
weigh 95 pounds and eat pretty much what I want on
a daily basis.  That's both a blessing and a curse.  

So, to keep my heart beating away for years to come,
I am treating it with love.  More fish and less beef.  My
dear hubby will either have to learn to like fish or, eat
something else on the nights I eat it.  I am cutting way
back on coffee.  I typically drink two big mugs per day
with lots of cream.  I won't go quite cold turkey, but
will ease back to one mug and no cream.  Essentially
I will be eating my oatmeal, berries, fish and veggies.
Cheese burgers will be a once every so often treat.

I am good about working out, but I tend to run on 
nervous energy and need to slow way down.  Therefore,
I will be adding a few minutes of yoga per day.

There are lots of things I want to do, and the last thing
I want is to have my life cut short.  Let's all remember to
take good care of the heart that beats daily for each of us.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Happy Chinese New Year!

Actually, it was yesterday, but we did celebrate at home.  This is the 
year of the Pig.

We celebrated with Thai food for dinner.   What can I say, this is a small
town ;-)

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 4, 2019

Wow ~ What a Mess!

I thought I needed more aluminum foil until I went to clean out the deep
drawer in the kitchen where all the baggies, foil and parchment paper live.
I was inspired to do this by fellow Instagrammer, Tikka.  She straightened
her's out last night and reminded me to go do mine too.

Not only do I not need aluminum foil, but I don't need parchment paper
or baggies either.  When I pulled everything out of that messy drawer,
I completely amazed myself.

This is a really big storage bag.  I have a roll of them from my sister-in-law
who has a friend who gives them out every year.  Great message!

I have to get back to work now.  See y'all soon!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What's Happening Around the Cottage

Does it ever seem to you that there are just not enough hours in 
a day?  I often feel that way.  Now that I have overcome my 
intimidation of my new planner, I am making lists like crazy, and
there is nothing I like more than checking tasks off the list!  I
should do a whole blog post about how I am getting a bit carried
away with that planner.

I planted Violas and Pansies in the long planter box on
the patio.  It's so good to see their cheerful faces looking up
at me.  David likes them too!

Speaking of our backyard, I took Bentley outside for his
last of the night potty break.  I always carry him in my
arms at night because I never know what we might encounter
as we venture out.  Well, sure enough, I spotted a skunk!  
And he was not very far away at all and certainly we were in
his striking distance.  He didn't seem to notice us, but we still
backed away very, very slowly.  Didn't want to take any chances!

I am on my third Mitford book.  Oh how I am enjoying these!
This series is so charming and uplifting and the perfect escape
from the crazy world we live in.  I seem to be the last person to
read these books, but if by a slim chance you have not, start
them soon!

I love Mrs Meyer's candles and buy all the fragrances.  This one
I burned down to the bottom and since our trash service does not
recycle glass, I decided to clean and reuse it.  I Googled how to remove
wax from a votive, and read that one way was to put it in the
freezer overnight, and the wax would just pop out.  I tried it.
It didn't work.  After requesting suggestions on my Facebook
feed, I decided that the reason it didn't work is because the
candle is made from soy and not wax.  I waited for the glass
to reach room temperature, and then I put it in a bowl of hot
water.  The candle slipped out easily.

Here we are.  All empty and clean.  Ready for its next life.
Oh the possibilities!  We that's enough excitement for today's post.
I still have more tasks in my planner to check off.  See you again
soon, and thanks for stopping by!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 28, 2019

Your Vote Was Counted ~ Vintage Style Farmhouse Won!

Y'all know me so well!  You pushed me in the direction of my heart, and
a vintage style farmhouse decor won out!  I'm so excited about this
path.  Thank you for a much needed nudge!!

I'm going through cupboards and digging out things I have been
collecting for years.  Often in the past, I would purchase things that
I had no immediate use for, but just because I loved them.  Here is a
set of four Homer Laughlin luncheon plates.  I loved the shape and
the vintage innocence when I first saw them.  Now they will have a 
home in the hutch that is already in the shed.

I chose the vintage style of farmhouse because I want it to be a
throwback to simpler times.  A little cottage that reminds me of a
grandmother who loves and nurtures her family.  She's the type of 
woman who can make her home charming and pretty out of 
almost anything.  It won't be a coordinated look, but rather the
look of beloved items collected and used over the years.

While I think the modern farmhouse look is attractive, and shows up
beautifully in photographs, it doesn't always draw me in and make me
feel cozy.  That's just me, and as y'all know, I decorate to suit myself.
I tend to think of myself as a director of a movie and want to set the
stage for the plot I am dreaming up in my head.  I envision a little
cottage in the country with lots of flowers and herbs scattered about
outside.  There is a laundry line with pretty little aprons and 
tablecloths hanging in the breeze.  Some chickens running around.
Okay, y'all know that David has repeatedly said no to the chickens,
but in my dream they are there.  Inside the shed are useful items that
are well worn and well loved.  A cottage where you can imagine 
that the wonderful aroma of a freshly baked pie is in the air.

This is heaven to me!  Stay tuned.  I have plans to make this
dream as real as possible.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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