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

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Future of Sweet Tea Cottage, the She Shed

I need some help making a decision.  This is the year I finally finish my
She Shed.  The interior will be painted and new windows added.  I have
decided on the number and style of windows and the interior will be
painted white.  I still need to decide on the flooring, but I don't think 
that will be a tough decision.  

What I really need help with is the decor of the interior.  I don't need
any new furniture, but I do need a theme.  I have been vacillating
between farmhouse style, and vintage cottage.  I am leaning towards
farmhouse.  What do you think?

I already have the chickens, just not real ones ;-)

Please let me know your opinion!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Plans for the Patio and Veranda

After five and one half years living in South Texas, I have 
finally come to the realization that there are some things I 
just cannot accomplish in the garden.  Once summer comes,
and it comes early here, it never leaves until nearly November.
There are few flowering plants that can withstand the 
relentless heat.  

Last year I purchased a potted Hibiscus that did very well.
It continued to produce lovely and big flowers well into Fall.
I cut it back and am hoping it will return again.  Cala Lily
does well too, but again it needs to stay in a pot.

My goal for the patio and veranda is to keep it easy.
I will be on the hunt for more big pots and may want to
try a small potted lemon tree too.  

The old porch swing that we brought down from Idaho is
really looking shabby now.  I have been on the hunt for another
one, and may want to invest in all weather wicker this time.
Our squirrels pulled the stuffing out of two of my Pottery Barn
pillows, so I need to find replacements for those as well. 

Next month begins the yearly live oak tree leaf shed.  Then
the yard will be covered in tiny oak leaves.  That will keep me
busy for a while too.  I am anxious to see if this year I can have
the patio and veranda of my dreams.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 21, 2019

Let's Pretend It's Spring

I know it's only January 21st, and we have many more days of winter
ahead, but I woke up this morning thinking about Spring.  I went inside
my closet and pulled out two dresses both in pinks and greens.  I tried
them on because I wanted to make sure they still fit after the holidays.
I tried to behave myself after all the fancy dinners and travel, and
fortunately my resolve paid off because they still fit.  However, it also
made me long to wear them.  Oh well, back into the closet they went.
Our winter down here so far has been pretty good.  Lot's of gray and
cloudy days, and lots of wind, but no freezes.  That makes me happy
because my ginger plants continue to get taller and fuller.

You might also be thinking ...  wasn't there a time last Fall when she was
longing for sweater weather?  Well, that's true, I was longing for scarves,
and cashmere, and corduroy.   I am still wearing them and enjoying them
especially on damp and chilly days, yet I am also longing for the warm 
sun on my face and seeing the new life in the garden that will one
day return.  What can I say ....  I'm fickle!

My houseplants are getting particularly special care because I am longing
to play in the dirt.  Spring tends to arrive early here in South Texas, but
it also is fleeting.  We mostly have two seasons, winter and summer, and
Spring is a true gift that we all savor.

In the meantime, I will amuse myself with gardening catalogs and
photos of patios and verandas on Pinterest.  It never hurts to be prepared!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Moving Things Around A Bit

Well, it's hard to get a good photo in this room.  It tends to be dark 
anyway, but the dark gray and rainy weather doesn't help one bit!

Right along with the rest of you, I have been moving things around a
bit now that the Christmas decorations are down and mostly, and I do
mean mostly, packed up and put away.  I paired down a bit for 
Christmas 2018, but I don't think I paired down quite enough.  As
a consequence, I have now created a donate pile that is growing
each day.  I had a very firm talk with myself and I have been told
by me, that I am NOT to walk into Hobby Lobby when they start
putting out their Christmas decor next Fall.  I wonder if it is possible
to alert the store and have them turn on an alarm when I walk in???

So here you have the farmhouse table in my breakfast room.  I will
never sell or give this away because I love it dearly and have owned it
since before I married David.  I have one problem with it though, I 
always feel a bit challenged to create a centerpiece for it.  Apparently
I did not inherit my Mama's exceptional ability to create them.  I 
seem especially challenged when the table is rectangular like this one.

So I went with the less is more approach and just put some green
apples in a vintage wood bowl.  I toyed with the idea of adding some
additional fruit, but I held back.  I don't know how long this arrangement
will have a home on this table, but it does for now.  

That's all for today folks.  I think I will have a hot dog.  I have not had
one for years and recently a childhood friend of mine started talking 
about Chicago dogs, and it got me started.  I don't eat mine the Chicago
way with the peppers and onions.  I like mine with yellow mustard and
pickle relish.  I also like the NYC style with sauerkraut.   I was careful
to buy the kind without nitrates.  I am careful that way.  So I must
close and get that dog because I am so hungry for one!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Trip to San Antonio and a New Lamp

David, Bentley and I took a trip to San Antonio over the weekend.  A 
friend of David's was in town from Dallas and invited us to dinner.
He made reservations at a restaurant in downtown San Antonio called
Bohanan's.  If you are in San Antonio and want a special dinner, this
is the place to go.  They serve Allen Brothers steaks from Chicago.  My
Aunt Susan used to send them to us.  I think she was always concerned 
that I might forget about my hometown.  We had a wonderful visit and
a memorable dinner too.

Our friend flew back to Dallas the next day, and we stayed on at
our favorite hotel, Omni La Mansion del Rio.  It is such a lovely
historic hotel and Bentley is always welcome there.  Our room had
a balcony over looking the river and even though it was chilly
outside, we took advantage of sitting out there, reading the paper,
and watching all the visitors and tour boats go by.  On Saturday night,
David was sitting out on the balcony smoking a cigar and having a
cocktail, while I finished dressing for dinner.  All of the tour boats
that sail by always mention La Mansion because of it's historic value,
and also because it was once the school for St Mary's Church next door.
However, this time the tour guide pointed up at David sitting on the
balcony and said,  "There he is ... Mr Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."
Of course, David wasn't the least bit embarrassed, in fact he loved the
comment and waved to the folks on the boat.  He loves being the center
of attention ;-)

We were able to return the iPad to Apple.  Then we bought a storage
unit so I can download everything from my Mac and let a Mac expert
take a look at it and see what's going on.  That will be happening this
week, so I will be working off my old lap top.  As a consequence, posts
may be a bit sporadic.

Now about the lamp pictured above.  I have a friend here who is the wife
of one of my husband's dearest childhood friends.  She is a Facebook
friend of mine, and was looking at the picture I posted of our fireplace
mantel at Christmas.  She thought about a lamp she had up in her attic
that she was no longer using, and thought I might like to have it.  She sent
me a photo and then the lamp.  She was right, it matches my style and I
love it!

The plumber will be here again this week to fix a slow drain in the
master bath shower.   It's always something isn't it?  Our plumber knows
this house inside and out.  Good thing too because we always seem to
have some little glitch.

Wishing y'all a happy week, and we will chat again soon!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

In Computer World Hell

I can't seem to fix the problem I am now having with blogger.  I can no
longer post on my miniatures site, at least not from my Mac.  I now have
to work between my Mac and my laptop.  I am having problems uploading
photos too now.  I feel like I am in computer world hell.  

I could end up being stuck with a faulty iPad because I learned that it
must be returned in 14 days.  Well, the 14 days are over because it was
a Christmas gift and was ordered prior to Christmas.  Yikes.  I just want 
to cry!  Sorry for the emotional break down.

Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Really Worried Now!

I have a problem.  I cannot sign into my blogger account.  I can open up my
Gmail, but I cannot sign into blogger.  As a consequence, I cannot comment
on anyone's blog, nor can I reply to comments on this blog.

Don't know what to do!!!  Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Susan and Bentley

Monday, January 7, 2019

What's In My Closet?

Over the weekend, I wrote a Facebook post about blogs, and whether
or not folks want to read them anymore.  I was prompted to ask this
question after reading a post by my friend Katie, who writes the blog
Let's Add Sprinkles.  Katie mentioned  several bloggers who have 
given up their blogs, or are thinking about doing so.  

The responses I received were mixed.  Some said they stopped
reading blogs and prefer Instagram.  Some said they stopped reading
certain blogs because of either annoying pop up adds, or the
feeling that blogs had become much less personal than they
were in the past.  Too commercial, and readers get the feeling
that it's all about "look at me, make me famous".  

I understand that feeling because there are blogs I have stopped
reading for those very same reasons.  

I want to keep my blog until I am too old and feeble to write it.
Quite honestly, my blog has become an extension of me.  I can't
quite find the time to write a post every day, but that doesn't mean 
I'm not thinking of it.  My husband suggests ideas for posts now
too.  It's too much a part of me and my little family.

I received many personal messages and responses to my
questions on Facebook, asking me not to quit, and offering
suggestions for topics.  One suggestion was that I divulge
more about myself.  So, in response to that topic, here is
a look into my clothes closet.

Our house was designed and built in 1948 by a woman and her
architect.  She quite obviously knew the value of closet and storage
space because it is generous.  In the master bedroom, there are four
closets, two walk-ins and one standard type and a very large linen

My husband moved down here about two months before I did.  He
claimed the walk-in closet in the dressing room.  It is a good size space
with built in shoe racks and a built in four drawer dresser.  At first
I was a bit miffed that he took the larger of the two walk-ins, but
as he explained, he doesn't have to disturb me in the morning because
the dressing room is just off the bedroom on the way to the bath.
He was right, and I am now quite happy with the decision.

As you can see from the above photo, I like to store my shoes in
their original boxes.  I wipe them off after I wear them and I even
put the tissue paper back in the toes.  I have always loved shoes.  
I think I already told you the "paper loafer" story, didn't I?

I also love clothes.  Believe it or not, I still have some clothes from
the mid 1980's before I married David.  They still fit too!  I chalk that
up to good genes (both my parents were slim), and the constant talk
about waistlines with both my Mom and my Aunt Susan.  Aunt Susan
was a model in NYC in her younger days and never left that training
behind.  Every time we would have one of our lengthy gab sessions,
she would ask me "what size is your waist now"?   I keep a scale in
my closet because even though my Mom and Aunt Susan are both
gone, I feel like I need to keep up the family tradition.

I am very sentimental too, even about clothes and accessories.  Here
is a cap from my old Alma Mater in Lake Forest, Illinois.  

Here is something else about me .... I love my Jack's, and it's quite obvious.
It's so warm down in South Texas that I have winter sandals and summer ones
too.  As you can see, if you can read the tiny print, I have small feet.  I
wear a 5 1/2.  My Paternal Grandmother has really tiny feet, even smaller
than mine.  Having small feet is both a blessing and a curse.  Shoes look
good, but it's not always easy to find my size.  Jack Roger's always
seems to have them.  Thanks, Jack!

These are my Hunter boots.  Oh so necessary in South Texas because
when it rains it's not often a soft rain, but a gully washer.  Puddles
everywhere.  These keep me dry and stylish too.  By the way, if you
call customer service at Hunter, everyone has the most charming 
British accents!

I'm thinking of adding a fashion look book from time to time, 
so that you can see how I put my looks together from this closet.
See, I am not all about decorating the house, I like to decorate
me too!

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, January 4, 2019

Waking Up From a Five Year Coma

I have experienced a lot of change over the past five years,
some of it wanted, but most of it not.  During this time period
I have done a pretty good job of fooling myself that I am 
better.  As my husband will admit, I do a very good job at
hiding the things that bother me the most.  I will tell him that
I am fine, but he knows me well enough to recognize the
cover up.

I try to fool the outside world too, while keeping up my
personal charade.  There is one thing that I do not have
control over, and that is my physical health.  All this 
hiding and deception eats away at me until I end up
really suffering.  It's been the recurrent theme of my life,
and if I am not careful, it could one day prove to be deadly.

Over the past six months I have experienced my deterioration.
Exhaustion, low grade fevers, sleepless nights.  I have suffered
through these before, but never to this extent.  Yes, I have been
tested, and no, never a definitive answer.  I have been given a
different prognosis every time, but no solution.  The symptoms
always begin with some sort of heartache I seem unable to shake.

The symptoms worsen by the actions of others who seem to take some
sick kind of pleasure in stirring up drama to cause misery.  This evolves 
into a sensation of being kicked in the gut when I am already down.
In the past I have been fairly powerless to control this nasty intrusion in
my life, but things came to a head this past November.  I finally had

While the heartache of losing several close family members in a five
year period is not a cakewalk, and takes longer than I would have ever
dreamed, the back stiffening required to eliminate the repeated emotional
assault from others has been accomplished at long last.  I have drawn my
line in the sand and there is no going back.  I have forgiven twice, but
never again.  What angered me this past November tuned out to be a
gift in disguise.  It finally opened my eyes to the fact that it doesn't 
matter one bit who the person, or persons are who are getting a kick
out of pushing my buttons, I don't have to take it, and the final straw
has been pulled and now there is no going back.

I am not totally sure how the change occurred, but one did.  I feel
so much stronger emotionally.  I woke up to the fact that there is
much I want to accomplish in this life and I don't need any road
blocks to keep me from fulfilling my dreams.  The coma I was
living through is a thing of the past.

If there is someone or something who has been holding you back,
stand tall and start walking away, even if it is only one step at a time.
Just like me, you too can start stepping over life's roadblocks.

Sparkle and Shine and Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Intimidated By My 2019 Personal Planner!

Here is is, my new personal planner.  I ordered it back in November and have
been so anxious to start using it.  Now that January has arrived, and it's time
for me to start recording my daily goals and plans and checking off the "To Do"
boxes, I suddenly feel intimidated!  

Isn't that the silliest thing?

Do I use the stickers I ordered?  

After my Christmas coma, I have to really think about what my 
personal goals are for this year.  

What about filling in those squares on each day?  Will my handwriting
be okay?  What if I make a mistake???

Suddenly, something as simple as a personal planner has such power
over me.  I need to step away and think about this for a bit.  Maybe
I should make a cup of tea and calm down, lol!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

PS:  Bentley is not troubled by such silliness.  He just stopped
listening to all of my questions and curled up to take a nap.


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