Monday, February 29, 2016

Dear Diary ~ It's Monday

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!  We did.  

This morning I decided to make a very Southern meal for dinner
tonight, so I pulled out my crock pot and added green beans, potatoes,
chopped onion and a ham hock.  I added some chicken broth 
just to cover and turned the pot on low.  Then I took out two
boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them in a buttermilk
marinade.  I will flour, bread and brown in a skillet, finally
finishing them off in the oven.  We are having buttermilk 
biscuits and honey.  I could make some cornbread, but David
loves his biscuits and honey!

Knowing that dinner was coming together back inside, I headed out to
work around the potting shed.  I am adding flower beds all around it
and working on one section at a time.  I planted a salvia, some Lantana
is next to it and oh, look at the cute little lizard keeping me company.
It's the fourth one I have seen today.  I found a tiny, tiny baby one in 
the house and three more in the breezeway.  

The little dog in the garden is in memory of Bitterman and Binkie.  
The hanging planter belonged to my Mom.  I plan to add a couple of
pots of Geraniums to it.  My Crepe Myrtle in this little garden is
just starting to bloom and so is the Ligustrum.  I will show you
pics when they are in their glory.  

I am planning on several bird feeders in the garden and purposely
adding plants that attract hummingbirds.  They will be coming
through our area en mass soon on their migration to other areas, 
although many stay here throughout the year.

I have been painting garden chairs and a table in this soft green.  I want to keep
it subtle so that the garden itself gets all the attention.  

Of course I had to buy some herbs and they are living temporarily in this
cute little toolbox from y'all know where ;-)  If you don't know, you will
have to read some of my recent posts where I discuss the addiction I have
for a certain store.

I have been having so much fun working in the potting shed garden that 
it's hard to drag myself away from it.  It's a passion!

BTW ~ Bentley is very fond of his new little neighbor, Harvey.
Harvey is a little fur ball and oh so huggable!  He's a Maltipoo and
he and Bentley are now best buddies.  So cute!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Special Book for Everyone

If you were walking around my house right now, you would find books tucked
into corners and in nooks.  Books on shelves and tables.  Browse through our
collections and you will discover subjects such as philosophy, history, comparative
religion, psychology and the sciences.  Math books, two different editions of
Copi's Logic, the sixth and the ninth.  Of course, Art History for me and 
Economics for David.  There is even a book with the title ~ Don't Call Me
Rover, 5001 names to call your pet, by Rita Blockton.  And another
favorite of mine ~ TV Sets ~ Fantasy Blueprints of Classic TV Homes, by
Mark Bennett. 

Books about our passions, golf, horses and of course ballet.  Our old favorites from
childhood.  Yes, I did read all of Noel Streatfield's Shoe Books.  Gardening and 
cookbooks and of course, all of my old French text books.  

There is something for everyone.

Now that you know about me and my reading habits, you can 
understand why the title of this book in the picture above, appealed to
me instantly …. 

Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George

Without giving away the plot details, I will just say that it is about
a bookshop housed on a barge on the River Seine in Paris.  It's owner
is not only a book seller, but a book lover who believes that there
is a book for everyone.  He dispenses books like a philosopher, giving
just the right book for just exact situation you may be living.  
Books for the broken hearted.  Books for writers with writers block.
Whatever the malady life has dished out, there is just the perfect
answer somewhere between the pages of a book.  It is as though
the author had just you in mind when composing his text. 

I am only on page 91, but it speaks to me as only a Frenchman
can ~ deeply with passion and sorrow and hope.  If you are a library
bookworm, a romantic and someone who wants to sail down 
the Seine on a barge filled with books to find an answer to
a failed love affair, or any question, this is for you.  I would suggest 
setting aside an evening with a glass of wine, some soft French 
music in the background and prepare to take a little cruise for 
some soul searching and healing of the heart.

Bentley ~ go find mama's Edith Piaf CD and I'll grab
a glass of wine and we can cuddle up in the big cozy
library chair and I will read to you :-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Big Project in My Studio

I spend lots of time in my studio and I really like the space.  It's cozy 
and girly and it makes me feel happy.  When I first set up this space, 
I decided to use this vintage book stack as a place to store craft and
sewing supplies.  Now however, I am tired of it and just want to
move all the craft and sewing supplies into this closet that you see
in the pic below ….

The previous owner of this house was an artist and she also used this 
room for her studio.  Behind these bifold doors she built in several 
ample shelves for storage, so it will be perfect for me to move 
all my supplies off the book stack and into the closet.

So the next time I show you this, it will all be different.

However ...

The dollhouse miniatures will remain.  They make me happy.

Here is one more look at the closet doors.  I am about to open them,
but if you are squeamish, you might want to close your eyes because
it is one HUGE MESS in there!!!  I am almost afraid to look at it
myself, but since I am the one who must clean and straighten it,
I will just have to build up my courage and open the door.

Are you ready?  Don't say I didn't warn you ….

Quelle nightmare!  The only way to handle this disaster is to 
fortify myself with a big pot of tea and seasons 1 and 2 of 
the Mary Tyler Moore show playing in the background ;-)
I know my "sister" Robin will understand that I will need
a big dose of MTM to get me through this!

By the way ~ Bentley will sleep through all of this.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dearest Edith of Downton Abbey

Edith played her hand incorrectly, yet how could we have expected more
from her?  In matters of the heart, Edith has never come close to winning.
She has been the overlooked sister.  Mary, the eldest and prettiest and
most self assured, trampled over Edith at every opportunity.  Sybil, who
died far too soon, was the rebel, the standout, the girl who followed
her own drummer.  Edith was hard pressed to compete with her two
strong willed sisters and chose to silently slip into her family role
as the overlooked one.

When Edith met Bertie, she came face to face with the one person who
did not compare her to either Mary or Sybil.  He saw something in Edith
that no one else took the time to see.  Bertie the compassionate man.  He was
looking for a complement to his character and a partner in life.  There
was no talk of position or money or stature, just happiness, family,
a content country life.

Bertie was searching and he found his treasure in Edith.  He would
happily work side by side with her.  There were no games, no
pretenses, just a growing fondness that would evolve into love.
The kind of love that would last a lifetime through the trials and
joys that time brings.   All the potential for a perfect union.

Yes, there was Edith's secret.  Her Marigold, her beloved child.  We all
kept shouting ~ Tell Bertie, tell him now.  He will understand!

But poor, dear Edith expected the worst because that was what she
was accustomed to receiving.  She is like the girl who won't take the
last piece of pie because she is sure that someone deserves it more
than she does.  My heart just breaks for her.   She is not aware of
how truly special she is and allows happiness to slip away because
that has become her position in life.

Yet despite her heartache, she is capable of forgiveness and loving and
compassion.  She returns to Downton and attends the wedding of her
self-centered and compassionless sister Mary.  She extends a hand in
friendship and sisterhood that few would duplicate after being stabbed in
the back by her own sister.

Her sister Mary, looking quite amazed and speechless at Edith's
open hearted terms of endearment.

Beauty fades.  Nasty and heartless comments forever bruise
tender hearts.  It is goodness and compassion that live on through
the years and are most often remembered and cherished.

I am hoping that Edith will triumph.  Not a triumph over Mary,
because in my mind she already has.  Rather, I hope that it is
Edith who blazes a fresh trail in this new evolving world she
is stepping into.  Mary is the old guard, but Edith is the future.
I hope that she takes the publishing world by storm and
experiences true success for the first time in her life.
Edith and her Marigold traveling together through the gates
of Downton Abbey into a new world of their making.  It
would be romantic if Bertie were to join them, yet even
if he does not, they are going to be okay.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 22, 2016

Vintage Goodies for the Potting Shed

I have been gathering up decorative and fun items for my potting shed.
I found a reprint of a vintage Burpee's poster on eBay.  On Saturday I
was in Hobby Lobby to pick up "just" glass beads for a vase when I 
stumbled upon two cute wooden signs.  There is one for Thyme and
another for Rosemary.  

I have to limit my visits to Hobby Lobby because they can so 
easily reel me in and I usually end of buying more than I planned ;-)

Some vintage gardening books will live on one of the shelves of
the armoire I am refinishing.  I have to repaint it and then beat it up
with some chains to distress it quite a bit.  It's going to be a wonderful
way to let out my anger about whatever is bugging me at the time.

I love this zinc mounting board with the distressed black frame.  I 
purchased this at that cute little shop called Smitten up in Fredericksburg
a couple of years ago.  I wasn't sure how I was going to use it when
I first bought it, so that is why I have not shown it to you until now.
Now I know it will be a fun way to post gardening articles and pictures.
I wish the shop had a website … no, come to think of it, it's probably
better for me if they don't.  I am totally smitten with Smitten and I
will spend less if I have to drive three hours to get there.  Do you
see how I am saving us all money all of the time???

I bought these cute little floral magnets there too.  

That's it for today.  I am preparing for a big post about last night's 
Downton Abbey.  So much to say about the sparing sisters on that

I loved the scene from last night's episode where the new puppy 
was in his wicker dog bed chewing on the sides.  Bentley had
a wicker dog bed when he was a pup and he did the same thing!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Two Years Ago Today My Mama Died

Two years ago today, I thought I would never breathe again.

I could not understand how my heart kept beating.

The pain was so intense and the loss so great.

I did survive.   It's been a tough journey, but I have made it along
the path without stumbling too many times.  I miss you Mama every day
as I miss Daddy too.  I have come to accept your losses and  I live on 
because your hearts live forever in my memory.  I'll do the best I
can to make you proud.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, February 19, 2016

Paperwhites and Remembering Harper Lee

This post was meant to be a cheerful happy Friday good wishes
type of post.  I am however, saddened by the passing of 
Harper Lee.  She gave us the forever memorable and
timeless story To Kill a Mockingbird.

Harper was once quoted as saying ...

All I want to be is the Jane Austen of South Alabama.

She certainly accomplished her goal and left us with
a beautiful and classic tale that will live in the hearts
of all of us and also for generations to come.

Rest in peace dear Harper.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Decorative Touches in the Guest Room

There are some built in bookshelves in the guest room and I 
have started to decorate them.  I finished two of the shelves and
I have two more to go.  I shopped the house to find touches that
would compliment the decor of the room.   It took me a while,
but I am satisfied with what's going on right now.  I am 
thinking of lining the backs of the shelves with a soft turquoise
and white ticking.  I already have the fabric so that's a savings.

This room is a bit of a decorating departure from the other rooms
of the house which have more of a British country house look.
This room is the French room.  

I am having so much fun fixing up this guest room and the
guest bath too.  Once I finish the rooms, I am working on the
guest closet too, making it full of wood and satin hangers
and all the essentials to pamper any guests we have.  Maybe
I will wallpaper the inside of the closet.  Anyone want to 
help me?  I could probably use a bit of help with that ;-)

Bentley and I watched part two of the Westminster 
Dog Show last night.  Bentley is not convinced that
it would be fun to have a canine brother or sister ;-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Apples, Daisies and Dog Shows

Good morning from sunny South Texas!  Whoops ~ it's no longer 
morning, it's noon already.  Where does the time go?  I have been 
busy doing little chores around the house.  It's a really pretty day
outside and Bentley has been in and out all morning.  

I felt like just checking in with y'all and chatting for a few minutes
before I get on to other tasks.  I have fresh daisies on the island and
a vintage bowl filled with crisp red apples.  The combination of the two
make me really happy.  

See what I mean?  More apples over on the tea cart.

Did y'all watch the Westminster Dog Show last night?  I never miss
it.  So many beautiful dogs.  That Pomeranian was so darn cute and
Juliette the Yorkie was so pretty.  That long flowing coat was gorgeous.
I cannot imagine ever letting Bentley's hair get that long!  He's like a
mop as it is.  Every little twig and leaf comes inside with him.  I will
be anxious to see part two of the show tonight, especially the terriers.

Sometimes I think I would like to get a second dog.  I don't know
how Bentley would feel about it.  He's been the "only dog" for his
entire life.   Every time I see a Golden Retriever, I feel like I am longing
to have one once again.  My neighbor in Idaho always had yellow
Labs.  She used to bring a puppy home from a guide dog service
near Palo Alto, California.  She would have the dog for about two
years.  She would take the dog to work with her at the university.
Amy is the dean of engineering at BSU and the pup would visit all
the professors and students each day.  Then the dog would be tested
to see if is was a candidate for it's future as a service dog.  We always
prayed that the dog would fail so it could stay with Amy, but they
always passed until this last one.  Hooray!  So, I think that since
Bentley is used to Labs, he might happily adjust to a Golden too.
Bentley will have the last word on that of course :-)


I hope that wherever you live, the weather is as glorious as it is here
right now.  It is really feeling like spring and such a happy tonic
it is.  

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 15, 2016

Jealousy, Deception and Greed

Greed is a nasty demon.  When one is both greedy and
jealous the temptation to resort to deception can pull on
whatever bit of moral fiber is within their mind and heart.

The characters in the novel I am writing are both flawed and
hampered by their jealousy and it's dominating effect on
their every waking moment.  This jealousy eats away at them
every day.  It takes over their present and erodes every chance
they have for happiness in the future.  Each perceived snub,
any little slight from the past, eats away at their content
like a cancer.  Greed and deception are the tools they use to
wield their revenge.  They are merciless.

Not exactly a fairy tale is it?

Sadly, life is not a happy ending fairy tale.  We do
encounter individuals who want to harm us.  Do
we curl up and hide?  Do we fight back with the
same underhanded tactics?  To me, neither choice
is a good option.  I am going to take you on a
roller coaster ride filled with multifaceted characters
that you will both love and hate.  At the end my
goal is to leave you with a glimmer of hope because
I believe that good can triumph over evil.  This is
the hardest goal I have ever set for myself, and it's
the goal I dearly want to conquer.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Don't Love My Love Handles

I am interrupting your Valentine's Day with a special
announcement ~ I hate my love handles!  

While putting on my jeans, I noticed some flabbiness
at my waistline.  I am not fat, nor am I overweight, 
however if I gain a pound or two, it doesn't go to my
thighs, or my bottom, it goes straight to my waistline.
Bummer!  I mean, why can't it be evenly distributed
so it is not noticeable???

The weather has been warming up here in South 
Texas.  It won't be long before it will be time for me
to pull out my shorts and bathing suits.  The last
thing I want is to see are little love handles at my

This means war!  So while I will be enjoying our
Red Velvet cake for dessert after dinner tonight,
tomorrow the battle of the bulge begins ;-)

Bentley ~ this war means extra long walkies
for us each day because mama doesn't think
 her love handles are very romantic.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hearts and Roses Breakfast Tea

Here is a way to celebrate the morning of Valentine's Day with a breakfast
tray filled with hearts and roses.

Heartfelt Valentine's Day wishes to you!

 We are joining:

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dishing on Downton

On this past Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey, the house was opened up
to the public to raise funds for the hospital.  I had to laugh when some 
members of the household questioned who would want to pay money to
visit the house?

Who???  Well, I for one would love to take a tour!  

As the full fledged Anglophile that I am, I would be happily taking in 
the visual banquet of the grand estate.  Wouldn't you?  So many of
us are so in love with houses and decorating and consider home tours
to be greatly entertaining.  

People have always tipped the butler to see the house.
Even Elizabeth Bennet wanted to see what Pemberley 
was like inside.
~ Isobel Crawley

Of course, what amazed me about the Downton tour was that so many
of the family knew so little of the history of the grand house they call
their home.  The family stumbled over questions such as these:

Who knows about the history of the house?
What about the architect?

Or ~
Tell us about these people?

By the way ~ that's me I think ;-)  Yes, it is.  I remember the hours
I spent posting for this portrait.  I was itching to get back to the stable!

Lord Grantham thought the idea of touring his estate for money
was crackers,  yet he was quite delighted by the little lad who decided to
take his own self guided tour and ended up in Lord Grantham's bedroom.
He referred to the young lad as a philosopher.

Have you ever wondered if any of the Crawley's dogs ever napped
on the sofa?  That's Bentley's question.

People are curious about historical homes.  At the Mardi Gras party we
attended last Saturday night, there were many members of the Victoria
Historical Preservation.  They had all been on the tour of our home back
in April 2013, just one month before we purchased this house.  They knew
more about my house than I do!

Victoria, Texas has many grand old homes.  You can visit many of
them here.

Imagine ~ charging money to have people snoop around our house.
Of course they will happily do so!

I for one would want Mrs Patmore to give me a tour of the Downton 
kitchen.  I love all the beautiful copper pots and the great table where
the work of rolling out pastry and such is done.  

When Mr Mason sent a basket of fresh veggies to Mrs Patmore, she
responds by saying …

I'll make soup and stock and all sorts.

The guests always do end up in the kitchen and that's where we
will end up today.  The Ash Tree Cottage kitchen where dinner
will be prepared tonight.  See y'all tomorrow.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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