Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Dear and Sweet Farmhouse Hutch

Do you have something in your home that you love so much that you
just want to wrap your arms around it, hug it, and tell it how much
it means to you?  I am an unabashed furniture lover and that is just
how I feel about the old white farmhouse style hutch that lives
in our breakfast room.  

Now I know that y'all have seen this hutch a zillion times on this
blog, so if I am boring you please feel free to skip this love
letter to a piece of furniture and its contents.   Fortunately, or
unfortunately, depending on how you view it, I inherited my gift
of repeating old stories from my grandmother.  Nena treasured
her memories so much that she always believed they were worth
repeating to anyone who would listen.  So, if you are still here and
want to learn more, make yourself cozy and read on.

I found this old hutch at a garage sale in as I recall, the West
University area of Houston, Texas 28 years ago.  It was in early spring,
just a couple of months before David and I were married.  I went to
the garage sale with a friend of mine.  Kathy was busy eying a 1940
something sedan and I found this hutch in the corner of the garage.
It was filled with old paint cans and some tools and was just not
loved.  Despite its unstaged condition, I fell in love with it instantly.
The hutch needed someone to love it, and that someone was me.

Meanwhile, Kathy decided to buy the old sedan as a gift for
her husband.  She had fallen in love with it and was already
imagining how wonderful a ride it would make after its restoration.

Since I was living in an apartment at the time and did not have
a safe place to refurbish the hutch without passing out from
solvents and chemical strippers, David and I took the hutch to
his parent's house where they had a shed in the backyard.  

David's dad was the proverbial engineer.  He looked it over closely
and determined what needed to be done to bring the old piece
back to life.  Despite his technical mind, he had the soul of an
artist,  and I believe he fell in love with the hutch too.   The
best thing about this collaboration was that it was a real bonding
time with my future father-in-law.   This is an especially
dear memory for me because John passed away from a very
rapid spread of cancer just six weeks after David and I were

This hutch was once painted blue with a white interior and 
Laura Ashley fabric lining the shelves.  Movers picked it up 
and delivered it to Virginia a few days after our marriage.  It
lived in Virginia for four years.  During those early years,  the
hutch was filled with the delicate blue and white patterned dished
from Mason's that I picked up on a trip to London with Mom and

The hutch was moved to Idaho in 1993 where it would live for
20 years in the kitchen or our 1913 cottage in Boise's North End.

More china was added.  I put the antique copper tea kettle from
my Swedish grandfather's family on top.  The Laura Ashley fabric
was removed from its shelves and the entire piece was painted white.
It was one of the few times that David did not object to my painting
a piece of furniture white, and I truly believe that the hutch was
thanking me for its latest transformation.  

The life of this hutch came full circle when it was moved back to
Texas where its history began.  It seems to me that it is the 
happiest it has been since coming home with me 28 years ago.
Its shelves are stuffed full now with pieces I have purchased and
treasured inherited pieces from my Mom, Grandmother Nena and my 
late mother-in-law, Lee.  It's a farmhouse style with the English flare
 of a Welsh cupboard full of a mix and match of plates and cups
and serving pieces that all seem to be at home with one another.

I fondly remember the day the hutch came home with me.  By the
way, Kathy's car was beautifully restored and her husband Ken 
was thrilled with his gift.  The four of us got all dressed up one
evening and took it for a spin and then to dinner.  Kathy and I 
lost touch with one another over the years.  I have tried to find her
again but have reached dead ends in my search.  If by some
blessing Kathy should see this post, I hope she contacts me.
She holds a place in my treasured memories too.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Updates in My Kitchen

A few weeks ago I ordered some new LED under cabinet
lighting for my kitchen and the electrician is coming on
Friday to install everything.  I am really looking forward
to this update.  Up until now I had fluorescent under cabinet
lighting and was not a fan.

I am also having puck lights for inside the cabinets with the
glass doors.  I am especially looking forward to this change.

I am a lighting junkie.  I always think that if there is one change
that can be made in a home, it's the lighting.  

I have never been a fan of fluorescent lights.  I think that they are 
cold and unflattering.  They also contain mercury which I
believe is bad for the environment.

In the meantime, I am emptying out all of the crystal from
the cabinets where the puck lights will be installed.  That's 
a job I don't like to do too often ;-)

I ordered a fountain for the little garden at the end of 
our breezeway.  Can't wait to show you what I am doing
out there!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Beautiful New Day

Yesterday was dark and gray but today the sky has cleared, the
sun is shining and it's a beautiful new day.  It often takes a few
gray and stormy days to truly appreciate the deep sense of joy
a sunny day can bring.  Today is that type of day.

I have walked through the house opening the curtains and
shutters and drapes to let every ray of sun bring it's 
cheer to each and every corner of my cottage.

Bentley just may be choosing this sunny spot for a cozy
nap today.

I just finished reading Pat Conroy's A Low Country Heart.  
I loved it!  If you love his novels, you will certainly enjoy the
insights into his personal life.  If you have never read any of
his novels, this memoir will send you to your local bookstore
or library to gather up a few copies.  

My plan for today is to enjoy each sun filled moment.
I hope the sun is shining where you live too.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 20, 2017

Coming Home to Die

Three years ago today, my mother came home to die.  Nine days prior
she suffered a massive stroke from which it was determined she would
never recover.  After the stroke, I refused to accept that she would not
recover.  I held on to every hope despite the palliative care physician's 
prognosis.  He sat with me many times during those nine days she
spent in the hospital, telling me about his wife who had just lost her
own mother.  I know he was trying to be kind, but I just didn't really
want to hear what he had to say.  He didn't know the woman my 
mother was.  He didn't know her strength and will to live.

I stayed with her all day every day during her hospital stay.
She couldn't speak.  She showed no signs of recognizing me or
where she was or whoever else came into the room.  For 
nine days she lay motionless with her only nourishment from
the saline IV drip spiked with morphine.

I talked to her.  I told her about current events.  I chatted about
everything except what was happening.  I couldn't accept the
impending death, so I chose not to talk about it.

Of course, I could not deny the truth forever and her
doctor told me that I must prepare for the end and either 
take her home or choose a nursing home for her final days.
Hospice would be there to help me.  I chose to bring her home.

I had not noticed that the azaleas had begun to bloom.  I was
living in such shock that nothing around me made sense nor
seemed important.  I went home to prepare her room.  A hospital
bed was being delivered along with an oxygen canister.  

The ambulance arrived at 4:00 pm followed by the hospice
nurse.  My mama was home at last.  It would be her last
twelve hours on this earth.  She passed away at 4:00 am on
February 21, 2014.

The days following her passing were dark and cloudy, much like
it is today.  While I didn't notice that the azaleas were blooming, I
could see that the leaves of our big Live Oak trees were falling 
like rain all over our property.  It was as though those
giant ancient trees were weeping.  

The last three years have been tough ones.  Mom and Daddy are both 
gone and my beloved Aunt Susan is too.  I have been forced to live in
a new world without my anchors.  

My pain is no longer as raw as it once was.  I have accepted my fate.

The leaves on the big old Live Oaks are starting to shed once
again.  New growth will follow.  We had a few days of a hard
freeze back in January and our beautiful ornamental ginger 
had to be cut down to 6 inches off the ground.  My caladiums
suffered too and only a couple of lonely little plants remain.
Next month I will plant new bulbs.  Our azaleas have begun to
bloom and in a few days they will be ablaze with their pretty
pink blossoms.  

I have been working out in the gardens, getting ready for spring
and telling Mom and Daddy about my garden plans.  I know they
are listening.  I have another plan too.  A plan that I know will
make them both very happy.  That plan is the answer to my
Mom's question for me .... "when are you going to write
your book?"  

The answer is now.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Good Reads

I have been thinking about the quality of my life recently, and
I realized something was lacking ~ reading.  Throughout my life
I have been a good reader, but during the past several years, 
reading has taken a back seat.  Recently, I renewed my Good Reads
account.  I joined the online group back in 2010, but then my
Daddy died and responsibilities built up and I neglected my 

I set a goal for myself of 100 books read by the end of 2107.
Since we are already half way into February, I have been playing
catch up, but enjoying every moment.  Initially, I began with 
four of the Anne George mysteries.  They were so enjoyable that
I breezed through them so quickly.  Then I decided to read a book
that I purchased several years ago, but had not complete.

That book is Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  It's a novel that begins
in Ohio and moves on to Savannah, Georgia. The characters have
many tragic moments, yet the happier events that evolve kept me
from crying too many tears.   All in all, I didn't want the story
to end.

Since I finished the book so quickly, I checked to see if the author
wrote any others, and luckily for me, she did.  I checked out
Looking for Me from our local library, and I am enjoying it now.
Of course, the cover of the book and its subject easily drew me 
into its pages.  I don't believe that Beth Hoffman has published
any new books yet, but I will be anxious when her next title appears.

Since I seem to be drawn to books with storylines based in the
South, I decided to do a bit more reading about Southern authors.
South Toward Home by Margaret Eby, takes the reader into the
small towns that were the roots for such authors as Flannery
O'Connor, Harper Lee and Truman Capote among others.  Years
ago I devoted my time to reading the classics of the Victorian age.
  I not only reread many of these classics, but I also read biographies 
of the authors and read scholarly reviews of their works.  Now I
feel the same desire to learn more about the South and its rich
literary history.

If you are not reading now, or if you are an avid reader and are 
looking for some suggestions of what to read next, think about
joining Good Reads.  It is fun and free and a great social platform
for readers.  If you want to keep up with what I am currently
reading or have completed, you can follow me here.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing Y'All a Very


Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, February 13, 2017

You Are Invited to a Valentine Party

Welcome to the dollhouse Valentine Party!  The mantel is decorated with
love birds, hearts, cards and packages.  Some pretty pink tulips have arrived.
So glad you are here.  Please make yourself at home.  

There is a delicious cake,  some cookies, and tea in the kitchen.
Please help yourself to the goodies.

The cake is especially yummy!

Bring your cake and tea and let's sit by the fire.  It's cozy here.

You have some packages to open and cards to read.

Don't forget to try one of these pretty heart shaped cookies.

Thank you for stopping by.  It's always so good to see you!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Blueberry Muffins

I baked some blueberry muffins this morning to have with our 
coffee.  They really taste best when they are fresh out of the oven.

Between the two of us, we finished four of them.  Only two
left now.  

Any guesses how long they will last?

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Cozy At Home Valentine Weekend

Enjoy a cozy Valentine's Day weekend with the ones you love.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine Baking in the Miniature Kitchen

Something lovin' is coming from the oven.  Valentine treats....
cookies, pies, tarts and cupcakes baked with love.

Don't forget your box of cookies!

The resources for these items are from two very talented
miniaturists:  Roxanne from Baking in Miniature, baked the pie.
My dear friend Kim, baked the cookies, tarts and cupcakes.
Thank you Roxanne and Kim!

More Valentine minis will be showing up here soon.
Until then, have a great Thursday!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Texas Style Valentine's Day

Imagine you are out on the range, or living on a ranch in Texas.
You could be around the campfire with your sweetheart after
a long ride through the sagebrush.   You will still want to 
celebrate Valentine's Day, you will just celebrate, Texas style :-) 

Hearts made from a horseshoe-patterned calico and burlap ones
too in a little-galvanized bucket filled with straw, makes a 
great centerpiece.

Red bandanas surrounded by fringe for napkins and rings.

A western horse all saddled up next to a cowboy hat accented
with red hearted ribbon and a ticking heart.

Don't forget an apron to wear while cooking on the grill.

Looks like we're all set for a romantic dinner for two ....
Texas Style!

Y'all should know that we are very romantic down here!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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