Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why I Am So Grateful

I have been very fortunate.  Yes, I have suffered heartache during
my life, but we all do at one time or another.  Rather than focus
on loss and heartache, I am choosing to focus on what is right and
good about my life.  Certainly, this time of year causes us to
reflect on our blessings.

I have been blessed with loving family and friends throughout
my life.  I am especially grateful for the dear friends and family
members I spent time with this past September.  It was so
wonderful to go back home to Chicago and see dear friends,
my beloved cousins and my college roommate.  It was a wonderful
and memorable reunion that lives in my memory.

I am grateful that we survived Hurricane Harvey.  It was an extremely
frightening storm that caused so much devastation.  Yes, we lost a lot
of tree limbs and we are still recovering from the damage to our yard,
but our house was spared and we are fine.  So many had it much
worse than we did.  

Our beloved little Bentley lost his vision this year.  It was hard on all of us
at first, but he has adjusted so well and is still happy and enjoying his life.
He will be twelve years old next month, and we are so grateful to have him
with us every day.  He is a true blessing.

We are blessed to have a lovely home that is our refuge from the busy
outside world.  

We are healthy and have no health worries.  In fact, we have no
worries at all.  

Most importantly, we have each other.  David and Bentley and I 
are a small family, but a very happy and content one.  For that,
I am so very grateful.  

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  May you all feel as
blessed as we do.  I will see you after the holiday weekend is
over.  Have fun, be safe, and enjoy those closest to you.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Yummy and Delicious Lunch Ideas

I am not a big sandwich eater.  I like them, but not too often.  What I 
really enjoy for lunch is something healthy and flavorful.  Today, I have
three choices for you that are favorites of mine.

First up is this baked sweet potato.  A couple of weeks ago, I was having
lunch with my hubby at Jason's Deli.  I had a baked sweet potato, filled 
with lightly sauteed baby spinach and topped with shaved Asiago cheese.


I love that this combo is packed with vitamins, minerals and lots
of flavor.   If you are not a big fan of spinach, you could just
bake a sweet potato and top with the Asiago and that is good too.

This next option is a mix of roasted veggies over baby spinach (there's
that spinach again) and served with a side of brown lentils.  I just roast 
whatever veggies I have in the fridge.  I drizzle this with some olive
oil and a splash of lemon juice.  

Cooking lentils is easy.  I take 1/2 cup of dried brown lentils, rinse
well under cold water, then add to a saucepan filled with 1 cup of
water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
Any leftover lentils will happily live in the fridge for about a week.
Use them in salads or add to soup stock.

This a a big salad with hearts of Romaine, sliced grape tomatoes, 
seedless Kalamata olives, a little bit of sliced red onion, blue cheese 
crumbles and croutons.  Toss with a light vinaigrette, I make my
own with Balsamic vinegar, EVOO, S&P.  

These lunches will fill you up, give you energy and keep
your waistline slim.  Enjoy!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Creative Process

I was very fortunate when I was a child because my parents never 
harnessed my creative spirit.  There were art projects of mine all over
the house.  Most of the time I was building houses.  I used the standard
kid's building sets but I also raided Daddy's wood stash and old paper
bags from the kitchen.  Sometimes there were little paper bag house 
villages scattered all over the family room and one had to be careful 
where to step.  Surprisingly, my very neat and organized Mama was
not a bit bothered by what some would consider a mess.  When her
girl friends would stop by they would ask her if my all my projects
bothered her, and she said no.  She understood that my little mind
was working 24/7 on important projects, and that she was fine with
it as long as I was happy.

I lived with the Moto ~ If you can dream it, you can make it.
I didn't understand the term mantra back then, but that is
what it was, my own creative mantra.

When I wasn't building little villages, I was creating costumes
for myself.  When I came home from school each day, instead of 
putting on my play clothes, I put on one of my costumes.  Most 
often I was a cowgirl, but sometimes I would dress like people 
from other lands.  Once after Daddy returned from a business trip
to India, I made a sari out of an old pillowcase and put on a stack
of my Mama's bracelets and drew a dot on my forehead.  I wore 
that outfit for days.  My poor parents never knew what to expect.

I also learned that creativity could be very persuasive.  When I was
seven years old, I wanted a pair of penny loafers like all the big girls
had.  I was still wearing some Oxford tie up shoe because my Mama
was very careful about my growing foot and did not want me wearing
any shoe without enough support.  I pleaded for loafers, but Mama 
said I had to wait a couple of years.  Don't ask about her reasoning,
 there was no arguing with her.  

I decided that the best way for me to have a pair of loafers was to
make my own.  So, one day after school, I took brown construction
paper, scissors, tape and 2 pennies and made my own Paper Loafers.
I worked very hard on them all the way to dinner time.  After 
dinner I raced back to my room to finish my shoes.  I finished them
by bedtime.  I was so excited about them and wanted to wear them
around, but I was supposed to be in bed.  I took one of my Mama's
cosmetic mirrors and set it up on the floor like the ones in shoe stores.
I said goodnight to Mama and Daddy and closed my bedroom door.

I was walking around my bedroom and admiring the paper
loafers on my feet when I heard a knock on the door.  It was
Daddy.  He could see the like shining under the door and wanted
to know why I was still awake.  He came in and saw me modeling
my shoes in the cosmetic mirror.  When he asked me what I was
doing, I had to explain the whole situation.  I am sure he was
laughing to himself, but he didn't let on.  

Although I never begged for or cried about real loafers.  My
approach was unknowingly subtle.  Daddy convinced my Mama that
if I wanted the shoes so badly that I would resort to making my own,
that perhaps I could have some real ones, but only wear them for 
limited periods of time and not to school.

Years later, I went to a counselor who specialized in discovering 
the best professional field for individuals.  My first assignment was to
write about my first major achievement before the age of ten.   I
wrote about my paper loafers.  She told me that in all of her years
handing out this same assignment, she never read a paper like mine.
Her conclusion ~ I should be in advertising!  She said if I could 
so calmly and easily convince my parents to change their minds,
I must have the knack to do it as a profession.  

I actually did spend some time in advertising :-)

What I have learned about creativity is this ~ we are all creative.  Each
of us has a spark of uniqueness.  We don't have to be professional artists, we
just need to let the inner child come out and play once and a while.  I
assure you, it's the most therapeutic activity you will ever do.  Let your
mind wander and your spirit soar.  Don't be your own worst critic.  Just
have fun.

Okay, I am going to end this blog post right here and go hang some
wallpaper in one of my miniature rooms.  Have a great day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cozy at Home Fall Mornings

I love a cozy Fall morning.  It's cool and gray outside, so I walk around
the house, turning on some lamps to bring a glow to all the nooks
and crannies.  In the Fall, there are two times of day I love, the mornings
just around sunrise, and the evenings at sunset.  The house looks
especially cozy to me at those hours.  

Favorite spots where we love to sit and read the paper.  Looking for good 
news, and for me at least, avoiding the bad.  Going through the style
section and looking for recipes.  Cooking takes on a special charm for
me at this time of year.  This past Sunday I made the first pot roast of
the season.  When David came home from playing golf, there was
the wonderful aroma of something in the oven.  Pot roast with 
carrots and onions over wide egg noodles is one of his favorite
meals.  To me, a perfect Sunday is pot roast in the oven and football
on TV.  

This is my favorite cool weather cozy breakfast, a big bowl of hot
oatmeal topped with blueberries. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope y'all have a great day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, November 6, 2017

I Grieve For Our Nation

Another mass shooting.  This time in Texas, not far from where I live.
The city I live in is a small one.  It is referred to as the Crossroads area.
We are surrounded by ranch land, oil wells and some of the most 
charming small towns found anywhere in our country.  We are one
hundred miles away from each of these three cities, Houston, Austin,
and San Antonio.  It is always a pleasure to take a drive from our
home to any one of these three major cities because the scenery is
often so bucolic.  In the spring, you see miles and miles of 
Bluebonnets and the Indian Paint wildflower in the fields where
Longhorn and a huge variety of other types of cattle graze.
It's a sight to see, and I treasure these views.

You will also find some of the prettiest old courthouses anywhere.
Tiny little towns, with small populations and it's as though
each one competed to have the loveliest courthouse. 

There is a wonderful variety of small and independent restaurants.  
Places that seem to turn back the clock and give the diners a sense
of home cooking how it used to be.

Miles and miles of country roads that are usually very quiet, except for the days
during the Round Top Antique Week.

One does not expect a tragedy of such proportion as we learned of
yesterday in Sutherland Springs.  A very small town on the way to San
Antonio on Route 87.  A highway that we have traveled on so very
many times.  Such a small little place where everyone knows one
each other.  The kind of place that we all dream about, where life
is so peaceful and idyllic.  The residents of this small town will 
be forever heartbroken becasue of the tragic events of yesterday.

For years now, since that fateful day of September, 11, 2001, we 
have assumed our foes lived outside this nation.  Now we are
learning that the foes are right here, fellow citizens living among us.

I spent three years living and working in a foreign country.  It
was very exciting and I would not trade my experience for 
anything.  When my time there was completed and I returned
home, I was so happy and proud to come home to the land
I have always loved so much.  I never imagined that life here
would become so violent, so troubled.  I am so very saddened
by the hatred and violence.  Why are we turning against one
another?  Why have the lives of so many innocents been lost?
Why is there such discontent in a land where we have so much?
I think of all those who have risked their lives to have the
opportunities this great nation provides, yet there are some who
just don't appreciate what we have and want to destroy
everything for themselves and others.  It breaks my heart.

Susan and Bentley

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Recently I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network.
I am especially fond of Ina and like her recipes.  She showed how she makes
what she considers the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. 

We love grilled cheese at our house.  I just love cheese, period!  Perhaps
it's because I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago, and we were so
close to Wisconsin ~ the dairy state.  I have made grilled cheese sandwiches
similar to Ina's before, but decided to try out her recipe.  I will warn you,
this sandwich is not approved by the American Heart Association, and I
am fairly sure that a cardiologist would cringe at the ingredients.  We 
decided it was worth the risk.  

The inside slices of bread are coated with a mixture of mayo and 
Dijon mustard.  The cheese is grated.  I only had cheddar, but Ina
uses a combo of cheddar and gruyere.  I baked four slices of bacon, like
Ina, and cut them into big chunks.  Ina used grilled onions (I often do this)
but David wanted just sliced raw sweet onions instead.  To assemble the
sandwich do this:

Coat inside of slices bread with mayo and mustard
Layer on shredded cheese
Add chopped bacon
Add sliced onion (or grilled onions)
Another layer of shredded cheese
Top with bread, butter both sides and grill

I usually serve grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade tomato soup,
and often it's made with red peppers. So easy and tasty.

Chop onions and saute in EVOO, add a clove of chopped garlic and
saute briefly.  Add a can of diced tomatoes, a couple of chopped roasted
red peppers and a quart of chicken stock.  Bring to boil, and let simmer
for 30 minutes.

I like to add a spoonful of tomato paste too.  It boosts the flavor.  Salt and 
pepper to taste.  Puree soup in blender.  Return to pot, add a splash of half and
half and heat through.

David gave last night's meal a thumb's up.  Tonight we will be having
a much lower calorie, lower fat meal ;-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Mystery of the Missing Person

I love a mystery, always have, always will.  I started reading Nancy Drew as
a young girl and she lead me on a life long path of getting to the bottom of
suspicious activity.  If something strange or mysterious happens, I am like 
a pit bull and can't let go until I have the answers.  

The other night I could not sleep.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps I had too
much coffee too late in the day.  I sometimes do that, and I blame it on the
Donut Shop Keurig coffee I love so much. Whatever the reason, I was 
awake.  I didn't want to read because I thought if I turn turn on a lamp,
the light stimulus would threaten any sleep potential, so I turned on the
radio to an overnight talk show I sometimes listen to.   That show is
Coast to Coast AM.  It's so entertaining.  Sometimes the guests talk about
extraterrestrial beings, or ghosts, or big foot.  It's often over the edge and I
end up laughing.  On this particular night, the guest was talking about
missing persons.  The kind of missing persons who leave no trace and
often no reason for their disappearance.  

The guest explained that there are often patterns regarding the type of 
person that goes missing. They are often quite religious in their beliefs, and
are often very well educated.  He mentioned a particular German scientist
who went missing following a hike in the mountains in the western US.
In fact, the guest said that missing persons are often of German descent.

This struck a chord with me.  I have a dear friend who told me about
his great grandfather who was a prominent Lutheran pastor.  He went 
missing and no trace of him was ever found.  He left behind a wife, and
family, and loyal parishioners.  No one ever really learned why he 
disappeared nor what happened to him.  I cannot imagine how difficult
and heartbreaking that must be for the family and friends.   There are 
many legal issues also associated with such a disappearance which add
to the pain and stress of the loss.

I started to do some research as to how many people just disappear and 
what the circumstances could be that would prompt the situation.  We
all know that children can and do disappear every year.  According to 
statistics, approximately 33,000 children are missing on any given day.
That is a huge number.  I had no idea it was that large.  The thought of
children being away from home is so terrifying to me.  The situations they
may encounter are too frightening to think about.  What can be done to
prevent this tragedy from occurring and how can we find these kids?

The number of missing persons is higher for adults.  It's approximately
50,000 at any given time.  Adults may, or may not leave willingly.  
The causes for slipping away unannounced are many.  Drug and alcohol
abuse is a prominent factor as is dementia.  There are also some who
are unhappy and choose to leave their spouse and or family without a
trace.  Financial problems, depression or anxiety can facilitate a 
person's decision to flee.  Perhaps crime is the basis for their choice.

As I was listening to the show, I wondered how many scientists who are
close to solving, or have already solved a problem that could be of benefit to
humanity?  Could their disappearance be considered a case of foul play?
When my friend's great grandfather disappeared without a trace, the
realm of forensics was far less sophisticated than it is today.  That being
said, how would one walk out the door one day and just vanish with
no trace of them to be found?  Have they altered their appearance?  Are
they leading a double life?  Were they kidnapped?  Were they abducted by
alien beings and are now living on a ship out in space?  Or if you follow
the concept of rapture, have they been whisked away and we are the
ones who have been left behind?  Something to ponder.  If I could
consult Nancy Drew, I would.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Not All Minis Live in Dollhouses

Just because you don't have a dollhouse, doesn't mean you cannot start a
miniature collection.  I still ~ yes still, have not completed my dollhouse.
In fact, just the other day my hubby suggested that perhaps I start with an
easier model to get started on dollhouse construction.  I think he made a 
very good point.  I seem to be mini builder challenged.

This little Bar Harbor chair and side table used to be in the shabby
chic mini living room.  However, I recently purchased a new chair for
that room, so I decided to put the sweet rocker on one of the shelves
on my little sewing supply cabinet.

Do you see it there on the second shelf?   The table has a porcelain basket 
full of tiny spools of thread, so it's quite happy in it's new spot I think :-)
(Refer to the first pic)

I found this little desk on eBay and instantly fell in love with the color.
It's a vintage piece, and as is so often the case with vintage minis, it is
not truly 1:12 scale and is a tad smaller.  No matter.  I love it on it's own ....

and on this shelf in the guest room.  I think it adds a bit of whimsey to an otherwise
sophisticated space.

The Bar Harbor rocker was replaced by this new pink gingham wing chair.
I have a new coffee table and a new puppy named McDuff too.

I am crazy about that little thatched cottage tea pot!

Check out McDuff.  The little ham wants to be in all the pics :-)

So, as you can see, the miniatures have a couple of shelves in this 
bookcase.  Miniatures are addictive, and you don't have to own a 
dollhouse to enjoy them!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Charming Miniature Windsor Chairs

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Colonial style furniture.
I have four Windsor chairs in my breakfast room, and now I have two
of them in one of my dollhouse kitchens as well.  I think they are so

I purchased them from Matthew of Weston Miniature on Etsy.  Matthew
is such a talented artist and creates with so much attention to detail.

He created the ceramic rooster on the little hutch too and he gifted me with this
adorable Life is Sweet sign.  Stop by his Etsy shop to see his other creations.  Here is
the Link.

Bentley and I are enjoying the cooler weather and we are so thankful that it
is beginning to feel like Fall here in South Texas!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, October 23, 2017

A New Puppy in the Dollhouse

Since I believe that every home needs a dog,  I also think that every 
dollhouse needs one too.  Meet McDuff ~ who is now happily
calling the Texas Rosebud Cottage home.  That's what I call my
dollhouse which is not really a dollhouse, but a miniature room on
a bookshelf in my office.  Y'all know I live in a fantasy world ;-)

I also purchased a new chair and pillow that now sits right next to the
fireplace.  Isn't it cute?

I bought some new wallpaper too.  I originally thought I would re-paper the
living room, but now I think that I will re-paper the nursery with it.  I have been
thinking of changing the nursery into a young girl's room.  This paper reminds
me of the wallpaper I had in my own bedroom when I was a young girl.  I loved
that paper so much and this one is really sweet too.  I will let you know what
I decide.  Have a fun day!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, October 20, 2017

Feeling Grounded Once More

Going back to my childhood home and visiting with family and friends
has been the best thing I have done for myself in a very long time.  It has
given me a sense of connection and peace that has been lacking for me.

Whoever said that you can't go home again was wrong.  If one expects to 
find home exactly as it once was, you will no doubt be disappointed.  Things
change and people are not the same or perhaps are no longer there, that is
true.  What I did discover though, is that some things do indeed remain the 
same and old friends still share precious moments in common.  It's just
so therapeutic to reach out to dear family and friends and to keep those
connections close to your heart.

It's comforting to tend to your roots.  It's made me feel stronger and
more balanced once again.   

If you are lucky enough to grow where you were once planted, I
envy you.  If you are like me and have been scattered to the winds
for much of your life ~ go home again and dig those roots in once
again.  It will give you the strength to carry on.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Mini Fall Festival

Sorry I have been gone so long.  I was not feeling very well all last
week.  Whatever I had seems to be gone now, and I am bursting
with ideas to share with you.  

Welcome to our mini fall festival.  There will be pie and other
goodies and lots of Fall spirit.

It just isn't fall without a basket of freshly picked apples and a crate
full of pumpkins!

Getting those pumpkin pies ready for the oven!

Come on in and enjoy yourself!  Mini Bentley is here too.

So glad you stopped by!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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