Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Forgiving For the New Year

Here we are once again at the end of a year and looking forward to the 
promise of a fresh new year ahead.  I have chosen not to focus on a new 
diet or exercise plan.  I am not going to make a resolution to redecorate the 
house or a laundry list of battling daily chores.  This New Year's Eve I
am focusing on one thing only ~



I admit that in the past I have not been able to forgive easily.  I have held onto
hurts and have let them damage my heart.  But I do remember these words once
spoken to me by a pastor.  He told me that forgiving is something we do for


His words stayed with me although I did not really want to let go of the
perceived hurt.  How could I is what I kept telling myself when one had
intentionally hurt me?  When one knew that they were deceiving me and
yet persisted in doing so?  I wanted revenge for the wrong.  I wanted the
other to experience the depth of the pain I was feeling.


I was taught to forgive.  It was one of the first lessons I learned in
Sunday school.  Yet why was it so hard for me to practice what was
preached to me?


My hardened heart began to soften when understanding and
knowing that I am forgiven of my sins, indiscretions and hurts have
been forgiven, how can I be so selfish as to not forgive others?


I have said many prayers over the years.  I have asked and have received
forgiveness, but up until now I have not fully embraced the true meaning
of forgiveness.  I know that for many of you, this is something you have
achieved.  I have not.  So I am writing this post to confess that I am far
from perfect.  That I have allowed hurts to tear at my soul.


I am not preaching to you.  I am sharing a lesson that has been so difficult
for me to accept because my heart was hardened.  I cannot say that it has
been a divine revelation to me that has changed me for the better.  Rather
it is the path I have chosen to take and each day I will have to remind
myself to forgive until that forgiveness is so firmly etched into my soul
that I will no longer have to remind myself of it's truth.


 I am leaving you with this message of forgiveness for the new year.
For those of you who have been struggling with forgiveness, I hope that
you will follow along this path with me and that we will soon find
peace in our hearts.

Happy New Year Y'All!

Susan and Bentley

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Feeling Fearful After a Burglary

Last night we took my Mom out to dinner to celebrate her birthday.  We 
arrived back home at about 9:30 pm.  Mom went to bed shortly thereafter
but both David and I were still awake for a couple more hours.  David 
was watching television in our family room and I went to bed and turned on
an old movie.  Neither of us sleep very well at night and often get up to
get a glass of water or to let Bentley out if he wants.  It all seemed like
a normal night.

This morning I was starting to cook breakfast and noticed that I did not 
have enough eggs, so I went out to the garage where we keep a second
refrigerator knowing that I had another dozen eggs out there.  Let
me describe our set up.  Our house is attached to the garage by a 
covered breezeway.  There is a side door into the garage that is
accessed by this breezeway.  As I walked out to the breezeway to
enter the garage I noticed that the door to the furnace room was open
(this is also accessed through the breezeway).  I knew it was not left
open when we came home in the evening.  I also know that all of us are
very careful not to keep any of these doors open because the stray cats
in our neighborhood will go inside.  I checked to see that there was not
a cat inside, then closed the door.

Then I went into the garage and noticed that things were scattered 
about and that boxes were opened on top of the freezer.  I went back
inside the house to ask David about this.  He had not been in the garage
and came out to see what was going on.  When we looked around we
noticed things missing.  Then we noticed that all four tires on my jeep
had been slashed.  The glove box was open and all the papers were
pulled out and that someone had slashed all the way through the 
driver's seat.  I went inside and called the police.

When the police arrived, photos were taken and an inventory of 
stolen items were listed.  But here is what scares me.  We noticed a 
plastic case with waffled foam inside open on the garage floor.
The policeman asked if it was ours.  It was not, but then he noticed
that there were pellets inside the case.  Pellets that would be used
in a pellet gun.  We are assuming that the thief left the case since
his arms were full of things he was taking from us.  What would 
have happened if one of us heard the noise outside and checked to
see what it was?  Would the thief have used a pellet gun on us?  

I am very nervous now.  I know that it is over and we are all
safe, but I feel so violated and frightened.  I can't bring myself
to look at my Jeep.  I have always taken such good care of it.
I know it can be fixed but it still hurts.  I doubt very much if I
will get any sleep tonight.

Susan and Bentley

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thoughts About A New Year

I have never really enjoyed New Year's Eve.   Wait, maybe
that is not entirely true.  I can remember some very fun parties
but there always seems to be so much pressure for the
evening to be perfect.  When I try too hard, things just seem
to get more complicated.  I much prefer the easy flow of things.

Oh and resolutions too.  Don't like that pressure either.
I think that if I set a resolution for myself there is always
a little voice inside my head that discourages me from
following through.  Does that happen to you as well?

Yet somehow there is the need to mark the occasion in some 
special way and to great the new days ahead with enthusiasm.
So here are my personal rules for New Year's Eve ~

Keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it safe and keep it early!
David and I think we have had a great time if we party
a bit and are in our jammies by 10pm.  I am sure that our
friends who knew us way back when might be shocked at
this revelation, but it's true.  We can no longer party with
the night owls and then soar with the eagles the next morning.
And we are okay with it.

Next ~ no resolutions that I know I can never keep.
One year David and I made the resolution to learn to play
new musical instruments.  He was going to get a clarinet and
I was going to buy a violin.  A whole year went by and 
there was absolutely no progress what so ever on fulfilling 
that plan.  Several years later we still laugh about it and
have threatened to put it on the bucket list again ;-)
Silly us.

I prefer to set goals.  In my mind a resolution is daunting, but
a goal has some chance of survival.  I won't beat myself up if
I don't meat a goal.  After all if I don't make one step towards
the achievement of the goal I can always push back the finish 
line.  Spoken like a true procrastinator.  Maybe I should run
 for Congress.  I think like a politician don't you agree?

So here is what I do.  I have to use a different kind of psychology when 
talking to myself.  A goal seems stern.  It's like a job interview when one is
asked "where do you see yourself in five years"?  If I were to be truly 
honest I would say that I would see myself in a cute beach front cottage
walking on the beach each day and being perfectly content.  Of course I
would need a goal to make this beach cottage a reality.  That's where I
trick myself.  I change goal to dream.  I believe in dreams.  

In the past I have learned that if I have a dream and just keep moving 
forward to make that dream a reality it happens.  I hold the dream 
tightly in my heart and never doubt that it won't happen.  

This philosophy has worked for me many times and it can be applied
to anything.  The only rule is keep it simple.  Only one dream at a time
not a bucket list full of them.  Hang on to your dream.  Don't let anyone
convince you that it won't materialize.  Make that journey into fulfilling
your dream a happy one.  Pat yourself on the back each time you get one
step closer.  Those are my thoughts for the new year ahead.
 I just need to pick a dream for 2014.  I could dream of being a cellist.
I never was all that keen on learning the violin, but the cello ~ ah maybe.
Well, I have a few more days yet to pick the dream I want to fulfill.
I will keep you posted.

In the meantime ~ Bentley (being the sweet uncomplicated darling he
is) has a dream.  His dream is to live each day in the loving comfort
of his home and family.  He's lucky because he lives his dream
every day.

Seasonal Sundays

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The After Christmas Let Down

Well it's over.  All the excitement and preparations done and over.
I don't know about you, but I always feel a bit sad the day after
Christmas.  I think I will take up the British tradition of Boxing Day
to cheer me up.  

We had such a fun day at home yesterday.  Our first Christmas in our
new house.  The tree was fabulous (thank you David for selecting such
a huge one) and we really enjoyed it's glow all Christmas eve and 
Christmas day.  I will say though that I am dreading having to take it
down.  But as I was saying, I am feeling a bit blue today.  I have so
enjoyed all the prep work and all of the Christmas movies I so
dearly love.  I watched Christmas in Connecticut, Home Alone (that
one is special to me because it has so many scenes of where I grew up),
White Christmas, The Man Who Came for Dinner,  The Bishop's Wife
( original with Cary Grant and Loretta Young) and other vintage flicks
along with the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.  The radio in
the kitchen was tuned to Christmas music 24/7.  I am a self professed
Christmas junkie.  Love everything about it.

So the presents are all unwrapped and everyone is basking in the gift
giving glow.  We had our first fire in the fireplace despite the fact that it
felt like spring outside.  I was going to burn some mesquite, but the chimney
sweep warned me against that because it burns to hot.  So until we get
a cord of oak delivered, I burned one of those artificial logs.  Does anyone
remember the old Mary Tyler Moore episode where Lou Grant took
home an artificial log to burn in the fire?  I am sure my sister Robin does!

We had our traditional cheese fondu again this year.  HEB does not sell any of the pre-made
packages, so I made my own.  Wow what a difference!  I can't believe I have never ever
made it before.  It's easy and it tastes so much better.  I will have to share the recipe
with you.  I served the fondu on the tea table in front of the fire.  It was cozy!

I spent all day Monday baking Christmas cookies and we hand delivered them to many
of our new neighbors.  Sometimes I think I should have gone to culinary school 
because I really like to feed people.  I am not Jewish, but I could easily be a Jewish
mother.  You will often hear the phrases ~ "Are you hungry?"  "Can I make you
a sandwich?"  "How about a big bowl of homemade soup?"   Especially soup.
I love to wrap everyone up in a quilt on a chilly day too.  I was born to nurture.
My hubby is a spoiled baby and you know Bentley is too.

I enjoyed baking the cookies, but I don't eat them.  I really am not that crazy
about sweets.  I am a savory lover.  My next door neighbor Katherine sent over
a plate of little meat pies and I ate the lion share of them.  I am fortunate because
both my Mom and David go for the cookies leaving more of the little meat pies
for me.  That's good because I really did not want to have to share.

Oh and we started a new Christmas Eve tradition in our house.  Our new
friend Bridget delivered so home made tamales to us.  Some of them were
spinach and feta, some cheese and some traditional.  They were fabulous!
David smoked some ribs and chicken and I made a pot of beans and we 
had a huge south Texas feast.  Thank you dear Bridget for the tamales
and for introducing us to an new Christmas Ever tradition!

So after all that fun I am feeling a bit sad that it's all over.  No worries
though.  I am not the type to stay sad for long.  I have plans!  I pulled
out my sewing machine and set it up in my studio.  The thought of sewing
puts a smile on my face.  And I am planning a garden for the spring and
knowing south Texas, spring will be here before long.  And besides
that, with the few hours left of this day I should google Boxing Day
and find out just what I should be doing today.  

Bentley and I both hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family
and friends and that you are not too sad today.  And if you are, well
then stop by tomorrow and we will do our best to cheer you up!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

First Batch of Christmas Cookies Make a House a Home

When you move into a new house it takes a while for it to feel like a
home.  I don't mean decorating.  If you want to visit a pretty house then
go online or look at magazines.  Those are houses and not homes to me.

Homes to me are where memories are made.  Ah yes, decorating is important, but
not all that important.  A home is a place that stores memories.  A memory box
if you will.  It's a place where we laugh and have fun and share with others.  
A place where holidays are celebrated.  It's where we plant a garden and shovel 
snow and enjoy each season.

Your house may not be the most beautiful or trendy one but if it is 
filled with love then it is a home.  And if so, you are very wealthy indeed.
Each day I fill my house with memories.  That's what will make it 
a place we truly love.

Big Texas Hugs.
Susan and Bentley

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Back Porch All Aglow for Christmas

It's the night of the winter solstice and our back porch is all aglow.
Look at Bentley ~ do you see him looking at the seat of that
wicker chair on the right?  He is hunting for lizards.  They like to
lounge on the porch furniture.  It's late and it's pretty cool out so
they are nestled in a safe place somewhere, but Bentley does 
not know that.  He is still on the prowl.

We put some snowflake lights above the potting bench.  It gives the 
back porch a fairy land look at night.

It is so still and cool out here.  It's the third night before Christmas.
We are so happy and cozy in our sweet home.  Mom turned in early and
David has fallen asleep in front of the telly.  I am just enjoying the 
calm with Bentley.  We are having quality time.

I think I will slip back inside and fill up the tub with bubble bath, soak for a
while and then get into flannel pj's and watch a Christmas movie.
Don't you just love this time of the year?  Everything is so magical.

Goodnight everyone!

Okay Bentley ~ that's enough lizard hunting for tonight.
Tomorrow is another day.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cute and Cheap Christmas Wrap Ideas

We are all looking for ways to keep costs down and to recycle what we
have.  Now my Mom is the master of Christmas gift wrap.  She spends
so much time making each package extra creative and wows us every
year.  I bow to the master, but I also have a couple of ideas of my own.
This is a package I created a couple of years ago.  It's just plain
brown wrapping paper (love the stuff), some white craft paint, yarn,
and twigs and a pine cone collected from a walk and sprayed white.
Cheap and cute.

Here's one for Bentley.  When we lived in Idaho a friend of ours owned a
cigar shop.  I loved to buy the wooden cigar boxes from him.  Here is one
I painted and filled with dog biscuits.  I will tell you more about the cigar 
boxes at Christmas later in this post.

Here is a fun way to wrap gifts that go together.

I really love the simplicity and homespun prettiness of this package.

Such a cute way to wrap up a gift of homemade soap or even a fancy store
bought bar.  Cuteness alert!

Sharpen up your grade school paper folding skills!

I love felt and buttons and rick rack.  Adorable!

Burlap ~ how could we live without it???

Here are some cute buttons again.  And ribbon too.

What little boy would not like a race car attached to his package?
I happen to know a big boy who would like a Corvette in any size.

Pipe cleaners and mittens.  Can't go wrong with those!

So back to the cigar boxes.  For a number of years I painted cigar boxes and then
took them to an adorable ice cream parlor where they also sold hand made
chocolates.  I would select the chocolates to place inside.  Each year there was
one theme for the box and I painted several to give as gifts.  This particular
year was a simple Christmas tree and snowflakes on the lid.

I would decorate the interior as well.  This year I just glued a bit
of wrapping paper to the lid.

I put my initials and the year on the back.  This is one I made for my
Mom and Daddy back in 1998.  Mom brings it out and puts it on her
coffee table each Christmas.  After several years I quit doing this 
because how many cigar boxes does one need?  But it was fun 
while it lasted.

Time is fleeing Bentley so lets get to baking some
Christmas cookies now!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Few Christmas Vignettes For You

Such busy days this week before Christmas.  Enjoy every moment.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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