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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Playing With Antiquing Medium

My Mama had this plaster artichoke which was originally painted gray.
I decided to use it in the guest room, but gray was not going to work with
my color scheme.  I decided to paint it an off white.  I liked it, but also
thought it looked a bit flat.

I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some antiquing medium.  It's 
a great product.  It is very inexpensive, cleans up with water, and a
little bit goes a long, long way.  

You simply apply with a sponge applicator, then quickly wipe off.
It's best to only work on a small area at one time.  I just lightly 
applied the medium only in the area I wanted, then wiped off with
a soft cotton cloth.   It was actually a lot of fun.

Here is the finished product.  The antiquing medium added some
depth and aging to the piece making it a bit more interesting.
Hmm, I wonder what I will age next?

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sherry Chicken Saute Recipe

I started entered young adulthood with absolutely no domestic skills, none,
zero, zip!  After my parents dropped me off at my college dorm, I
was clueless.  It's not that I was going to be cooking, because I was on
the college meal plan, but other than making my bed, I was useless.
I didn't even know how to do laundry.   This is not something I am proud
of, it is fact.  In my young life, I sent my clothes down the laundry shoot
to the basement and they magically arrived back folded and placed 
in my dresser drawers, or hung up in the closet.   Fortunately for me,
I was not the only one in my dorm who was a pampered princess.  
One of the upperclass girls was assigned to give a group of us
instructions on how to use a washing machine and dryer.  Laundry 101
was how we lovingly referred to it.  Fortunately, or unfortunately,
I was not the only sheltered girl on campus.  There was another 
freshman who had never "drawn her own bath".  She came knocking
on our dorm room door the first night and asked us for help.  Now
this was something I could handle and was only too happy to 
show her how it was done.  

So now you know that my domestic skills were lacking,
and hence I had no ability in the kitchen either.  I didn't even
know how to bake cookies!  Shameful, I know.  Since I was
a novice on that front as well, after college, my family members
decided it was time for me to start learning to cook as well
as wash clothes.  My Mama passed down her recipe box with
mostly blank index cards and a few of her beloved recipes
handwritten and filed away.

I started collecting recipes from friends, and magazines and family
members.  Little by little, the box started to fill up, and my skills
in the kitchen began to grow.  I discovered that I liked to cook.

This is a long introduction to a recipe, but there is a reason for that too.
Notice how splattered this recipe card is.  It dates back to my early
days of food prep.  I was always referring to the recipe as I cooked,
and back in those days, in a tiny apartment, space was limited and
the recipe was right next to the stove.   I have old cookbooks that
look like this too ;-)

Sherry-Chicken Saute is an oldie.  

4 Chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1/2 Clove Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup plus 2 T olive oil
1/4 Cup plus 2 T Red Wine Vinegar
2 T chopped fresh Parsley
1 t dried whole Tarragon
1/2 Cup Sherry
Salt & Pepper

Saute the chicken in EVOO until lightly browned.  Add garlic
and saute lightly, but do not burn.  Remove chicken to a plate
and add the red wine vinegar, parsley, tarragon, sherry and 
salt and pepper to skillet.  Put chicken back in the pan, cover,
and turn heat to simmer for 20 minutes.  

The original recipe does not call for this step, but do add it
because it will intensify the flavor of the sauce.  Remove the
chicken to a plate and cover with foil.  Increase heat under 
sauce and let it reduce a bit.  This step will intensify the
flavor and add more zip to the sauce.  

Plate the chicken and pour the sauce over it.  

This old recipe was recently remembered by me and will be on
the chicken menu rotation once again.  It's quick, easy and tasty
Truly a 30 minute meal.

Hmm ... I wonder what other recipes are in this box that I 
have forgotten about???

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, August 3, 2018

Old Fashioned Carrot Raisin Salad Recipe

I have mentioned that lately I have been in a recipe rut.  In an effort to
shake things up a bit, I went through my old files and landed on this one ....

Carrot Raisin Salad

This is very retro and sweet and simple too.  Just grate some carrots, mix up
some mayo with chopped pineapple, raisins and serve.  I did cut the mayo
just a bit with some pineapple orange juice I had on hand.

Chill this mixture in the fridge for a few hours and serve.
Kids will probably like it because of it's sweetness.  While this retro
recipe isn't all that exciting, I do have some more edgy recipes that
I plan to feature, so stay tuned.   Happy Friday y'all!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sadly, Cliques Don't End After High School

I don't know about you, but I was once under the misconception that
cliques ended once we graduated from high school.  Sadly, they do not.
You can also find them in colleges and universities, but then are 
often called sororities.  I never thought of myself as a clique type of
girl, but I ended up in one.  The best thing that came of that, is that it
taught me not to be so shy, and left me with a very dear friend who
remains close to me to this day.

By nature, I tend to be a loner.  I imagine that evolved from being
an only child.  I did then, and do still, enjoy my own company.  I
very seldom am lonely.  Now that's not to say that I never hung out
with any other girls, because I did.  I just wasn't quite the joiner
that others were, and frankly, I wasn't always seeking the approval
of others either.  

At some point, I just learned to be happy in my own skin.
In the photo above, I am the girl with the bangs, or fringe as 
the Brits would say.  I remember going to a hair stylist years
ago, and she said that the bob hairstyle with bangs was perfect
for me because I reminded her of a Dutch girl.  So, I never let
my bangs grow out, and wear them to this day.  It's me.
It's my look, no matter what current fashion dictates.  

This morning I was talking on the phone to a childhood friend.
We have quite recently reconnected, and it's been fun catching
up with one another's lives.  We talked about a reunion I attended
last Fall, one that she chose to skip.  She asked me about it
and about the really popular clique.  Yes, they were there, and
yes they seemed to be as tight as ever.  The big difference for me,
was that I had moved away, so the clique didn't have much impact
on me.  I was able to be an objective observer.   The other thing
I knew is that wherever one's travels may lead, there will always
be "The Clique". 

"The Clique" is always a coveted few who rise to the ranks of
a localized stardom.  It's a group usually made up of the
prettiest, the funniest, the most athletic, etc.  They are found in
every town in this great land.  They wield a power that only
a few may enjoy, some envy and the rest fear.  

Some adults, and I am using the term adult loosely, find it
necessary to continue the security of "The Clique" long
past high school.  It's a power in numbers type of concept.
There are rules, and any chance of a newcomer being accepted
into this coveted group, will require great scrutiny.  

Perhaps you want to be a part of "The Clique".  While I don't
advise it be a dominating factor in your sense of worth and
happiness, it is your choice.  Proceed with caution.  Play
your cards close to your chest and always know that you
may well be discussed in somewhat unfavorable ways
behind your back.

For those longing to belong to a coveted group, I 
suggest living in a small city or town.  Cliques are
plentiful there.  If you want to go your own way, the
two best spots are a big traditional city like NYC,
or way out in the country or way up in the mountains
where the true loners roam.  For most of us, we will
confront cliques for the rest of our lives.   My advise
for survival is to stand tall, be proud, and be friendly.
People may like you, or they may not.  The most
important thing is to like yourself, be comfortable
in your own skin, and to treasure the true friends
you already have.  

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Re-Arranging a French Country Bedroom

Yesterday, I decided to move some furniture around in the guest bedroom.
I switched the positions of the bed and the love seat, and then moved
whatever I thought looked displaced.  So, as you can see now, the bed
is now backed with the mirror and sconces.

This was something I had been thinking about for a while and 
once I saw the bed in it's new position, I was happy!

Here is the love seat where the bed used to be and the wing back 
chair is now in the opposite corner from where it was.   I am sorry
these photos came out rather dark, but the clouds have been  building 
all day, and we might be having another thunderstorm.  

I am deciding on a gallery arrangement over the love seat.  Mama had
some lovely vintage pieces I would like to use.  I'll take my time and
figure it out.

The lovely cane bench that used to be at the foot of the bed,
is now angled towards the French doors that lead to the patio.

This fake fur throw gives it a touch of glam.

The French chair that was in the alcove to the garden, has now
been moved to one end of the love seat.

This set of nesting tables came from Soft Surroundings about five
years ago.  Love it!

This whole room is based on using what I already own. 

As y'all know, just moving things around can make a big difference
in the aesthetics of a room, and make the old seem new again.

I still want the walls painted an off white, but for now I am happy
with the results.  The next big project in to turn one of the two closets
into a guest worthy one.  Stay tuned for that project.  Until then,
stay cool my friends, stay cool.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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