Friday, May 29, 2015

Stalkers, Intimidators and Abusers

About five or so years ago, back while I was living in
Idaho, I was being followed for a while by a stalker.
At first it was a bit unnerving but then became more
frightening.  The man who was stalking me was 
mentally unbalanced.  He would have conversations
with imaginary others so I knew he had some form of
mental illness, but I did not know how extensive the 
illness was or how dangerous he could become if
provoked in any way.  

I told my co~workers about this problem and my 
stalker was being watched by security guards.
At first I didn't want to tell my husband about this
stalker because I knew David would just want to keep
me safe and locked up.  Eventually I had to tell him
and David watched for the guy so that he never showed
up anywhere near our home.

After a while, my stalker started to back off and I heard that
he started stalking someone else.  She became frightened as well.

The sad thing is that many take the attitude that until something
 overt happens, there is not much that can be done about one
 who stalks.  This can have very unfortunate and dangerous

A short while after I moved away from  Idaho, I learned 
just how frightening ignoring a problem like stalking 
can become.  One day my former stalker became very
upset.  This time he wasn't content to just watch and 
follow, he became physically abusive to a couple of
women.  He flipped out and lashed out.  He was 
arrested and put in jail.  Although these women were
not badly hurt physically, the emotional wounds from
such an attack are very real and very lasting.

Stalking is a form of abuse.  It can terrorize it's
victim and leave lasting scars.  It is also 
intimidating.   A woman who is followed by a 
larger, stronger man is very intimidated.  A 
million thoughts run through your mind as to how
you will defend yourself should he over power you.

The stalker knows he is exerting a power over you
and this is thrilling for him.

Never allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone.
In the case of this stalker, he was a mentally ill person.
Yet many abusers are not mentally ill but emotionally
bereft.  If anyone is intimidating you or makes verbal
or written threats, know your rights.  Call the police
and report the threat.  Violence can and does happen
everywhere.  You may be reluctant to do so, but you 
are within your rights to make that call.  Let's strive
to prevent violence before it is too late.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Over the Coffee Mug Musings

Today is one of my "domestic" days.  I am going from room to room,
dusting, fluffing, vacuuming.  I like everything to be all neat and tidy
before the weekend so we can mess it all up again :-)

We have lived in this house long enough now that I need to start
cleaning out drawers and closets.  Sometimes I wish the drawer and 
closet genie would show up in the middle of the night and quietly
get it all done.  I don't mind straightening out a closet once I get
started, but it's the getting started part that takes some effort for me.

This morning when David was leaving for work, we kissed each other as we do
every time either of us leave the house.  I stopped for a moment watching him
leave through the back door and thought how much I love him.  This coming
Monday we will be celebrating our 26th anniversary.  Although I was very much
in love on our wedding day, I can honestly say that I love him even more now.

All of the couple friends that we had before we were married are also
old married couples now.  We are still friends too.  Some of them live
in Houston and it's fun to visit with them.  All either have grown kids or
kids in college.  David's sister Cindy who also lives in Houston is now
the grandmother to four little ones.  I remember when her then young
daughters were at our wedding.  Now those daughters are grown with
husbands and children of their own.  The youngest, Angela is not married
yet, but has a boyfriend and she is in grad school at UT.  Time marches
on, but sometimes a bit too fast!

I don't know if you have noticed yet or not, but I have started a 
cooking segment on my blog each week.  I am really happy when I
am in the kitchen with music in the back ground and creating 
something yummy to eat.  I hope you'll stop by to check it out from
time to time and give me feedback too.  This is a maiden effort for me
so let's just jump in and see where it takes us.  Maybe Bentley and I 
will start a YouTube cooking show :-)

I used to be such a voracious reader, and I have not been reading
as much as I once was.  I am changing that trend.  I have a library
card once again and am catching up on must reads.  What about you?
What are you currently reading?

Well, I suppose I have rambled on long enough now.  Oh, and look what
I see right above this little vignette you see here  ….

It's a snail on the window.  It's been so wet here that snails are
everywhere!  He looks big in this picture but is actually a tiny one and
there is another one not too far away from him.  I better move both of 
them far away.  The snails have already consumed one of my
Impatiens and I don't want them chomping away on any more

Have a great Thursday y'all!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Anti~Aging Carrot Curry and Ginger Soup

I'm in the kitchen again to share another one of my recipes with you.
Last week I showed you my recipe for a healthy salad using leftovers from
the fridge.  This week I am back with an anti-aging recipe packed with
anti~oxidants and anti~inflammatory ingredients.  The kind of ingredients
that will keep us healthier and younger longer.

I love to make soups.  It's great to make a big pot of soup and have some
that day and refrigerate or freeze the rest for later.  I like soup all year round,
even when it's hot outside ~ especially when it's a soup with curry and spices
like this one.  After all, it's pretty hot in India and Thailand most of the year
and they have been eating like this for centuries.

For this recipe I used:

Four Carrots ~ peeled and sliced
1/2 Onion ~ diced
1 Clove Garlic diced
1 Inch Piece Ginger ~ peeled and grated
1 Large Box Chicken Broth (could substitute vegetable broth)
1 Can Reduced Fat Coconut Milk
Garam Masala
Curry Powder
Kosher Salt to taste
Lime Juice
Cilantro ~ garnish

Carrots are loaded with Vitamin A and fiber too as we all know.
Ginger is a powerhouse too (as are most spices).  It aids digestion and is
also an anti~inflammatory root.  It can improve cardiac health because it
decreases sticky platelets which contribute to excessive clotting.  It boosts
immunity and helps to remove toxins and viruses from our bodies. It
increases circulation and keeps our skin looking healthy by aiding the
digestive tract.  

Garlic also helps to prevent heart disease by lowering high blood pressure
and high cholesterol.  

Garam Masala is a spice often used in Indian cooking.  It is a mixture of
spices including cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and 
cardamon.  These also have potent anti~inflammatory properties.  As
scientists learn more about our bodies, they are learning that inflammation
is at the root of many diseases and finding ways to control inflammation
help to keep us well and to slow down the aging process.  What I love about
it is that it gives a dish a real depth of flavor, a layering of spices that
amuse the palate.

Curry is another spice that has been gaining a lot of press lately.  Our
country's dilemma of Alzheimer's has researchers scrambling to find a
way to control it.  One thing they have noticed is the lower rates of
Alzheimer's in India where curries are widely consumed.  I love the
flavor, so if I can eat a tasty curry and help my brain at the same time
I think it's a win win.

Here's what you do:

Add a little olive oil to a soup pot ~ just coat the bottom of the pan.
Get it hot and then add the onions and carrots.  Saute slowly for 10 to 15
minutes.  Add the garlic (careful not to burn), some Kosher salt, and 
1/2  tsp or more of the Curry Powder and Garam Masala.  Adjust this
amount depending on your taste.  Let the spices just warm up, stirring often.

Add the broth.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes.
No lid.  Take off the stove and pour into blender in small batches since
the mixture is still hot.  When all mixture has been blended, return to
pot and add the can of coconut milk.  Heat through.

Taste to see if you need any more salt.  I try to keep the salt to a minimum.

Pour in a bowl.  I added a squirt of lime juice to my bowl and some
chopped cilantro which I think adds yet another layer of flavor and 
once again is packed with great anti~aging properties.

I served mine with a glass of infused water ~ lemon and cucumber,
so refreshing!  

That's it for this Wednesday.  I am planning on making Wednesdays
my recipe day at Ash Tree Cottage.  I love to cook but I also like to
look for ways to add lots of nutrition and anti~aging ingredients into
our menu.  Until next time ….

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Real Life ~ Uncensored

This room was all straightened up on Friday afternoon but that didn't
last too long.  This weekend was a rough one.  We spent most of our
time inside waiting for storms to pass.  When I got up this morning
I accessed the damage inside and out.  Our house is fine except for
a couple to tree limbs on the ground, but thankfully no flooding or
other wind damage. 

Check out that stack of newspapers!  This is how the family
room looks when we are stuck inside all day.  David watched a lot
of the Golf Channel and then we kept checking on weather
conditions.  We did go over to our neighbor's house on
Sunday evening and had a great time sitting outside and talking
while our dogs were having great fun playing in the puddles
of mud in the back yard.   It was the only evening when we
didn't have a downpour and constant thunder and lightning.

We did consume a few cocktails.  Nothing like a vodka and tonic to calm
the nerves.  Although David and Bentley are not troubled by the 
storms like I am,  I am not ashamed to admit that I need a bit
of help to get me through the huge lightning bolts, crashes of 
thunder and constant tornado warnings like we have been having
for days on end.

David was parked in his comfy leather chair doing his crossword
puzzles and Cryptoquips.  He saves the Sudoku for me because
he knows how much I love doing it.  I seldom get to sit in this chair
because either David is sitting there or Bentley is when David is
not home.  

If Bentley can't sit there, then he likes to make a bed on top of the
throw pillows on the sofa.  He's a "lounge pup".

When I had enough of watching golf and hanging out in the
man cave with David and Bentley, I retreated into my studio to
take a nap or read.  I had my desktop computer unplugged most of
the weekend and only used the laptop.

Half the time I was falling asleep during the day because the storms were
keeping me awake at night.

Yesterday David suggested that we get out of the house for a while
and drive to Houston for some shopping and lunch.  I was a bit
reluctant to go because I knew that more storms were on their way, 
but David convinced me we would be fine.  So we drove into 
Sugar Land, just to the west of Houston and had lunch at Pappasito's
and did a little shopping then got back on the highway for our two
hour trip home.  We were home before dark and shortly thereafter
the weather reports started coming in and none of them were good.
Tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood warnings were going off on
our cell phones, television and the radio.  This time there were reports
of three inch hail too.  We hunkered in once again.

The storm was quite rough here, but not as bad as it was in Houston.
We contacted family members who live there and everyone is
fine except for my brother-in-law's niece whose home was flooded
with five inches of water.  She just had a baby a few months ago and
she and her husband and baby will have to live elsewhere for a 
while so that the house can be cleaned out.  A shame yes, but
no injuries and that's a blessing.

My heart goes out to those still missing in these violent storms.
Lives have tragically been lost.  A man lost his wife and children
while they were staying in a vacation cabin along the Blanco
River.  He was rescued, but it is feared his wife and children both
drowned.  A young girl was driving home from her prom and was
faced with high water just two miles from her home.  She called
911 and her dad, but neither could get to her in time.  There
are other stories coming in now too.  We just never know what
lies ahead for any of us.  All we can do is to be thankful for our
blessings and be good and kind to one another because that's
all we ever really have.

We have more rain coming our way and the meteorologists are
predicting another tough weekend ahead.   I have no idea where
any more water can possibly go.  The ground is so saturated now.
Riverside Park in Victoria is closed because of flooding from
the Guadalupe River.  They had to move all the animals out of
our zoo to a safer location.  Livestock is at risk too.  I know that
we are all happy to be out of the drought, but not by these
circumstances.  All we can do is pray.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bentley's Weekend Wrap~Up

Hi ~ It's me, Bentley.  I am stopping by to tell you all about my weekend.
It was a really good one, except for two things.  My mama and daddy
were home with me on Saturday and Sunday.  We did fun stuff like
cuddle and eat treats.  I did lot's of my special tricks which make mama
and daddy laugh and I got treats for those too.  On Saturday night we had
grilled chicken.  Yum ~ I love it!  Last night daddy grilled a steak which
was really good too.  Then after dinner we all went over to our next
door neighbor's house and I got to play with Toby and my new girlfriend,
Bella.  The three of us ran around the yard and had an especially good 
time in the puddles left by the rain.  I was so happy and having so
much fun that I had a big smile on my face.  Toby and Bella were
smiling too.  That's the good stuff.  

Now for the bad stuff.  After we left our neighbor's house, mama
gave me a surprise bath.  I already had a bath this week.  I don't 
know why I needed another one, but mama said I couldn't come to 
bed with her until I did.  Major bummer.  I hate baths!  The other
bad thing is that mama and daddy left me behind today, all 
alone in the house so that they could go shopping in Houston.
Mama said she wanted to get some new shoes and daddy wanted
something for golf.  I gave them a really sad look, but it didn't 
work.  Mama said something about a hot car.  So there I was, all
alone for what seemed like forever.  Now they are back home
and all is right with the world once again.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sweet Memories of an Antique Shop

This picture of Blue Moon Antiques is what you see above.  It was a 
wonderful shop filled with lots of antique treasures, yet what I 
remember most are the two women who sat behind the counter of this shop ~
Janice, the owner and Patsy her assistant.

Over the years I shopped there, I found and purchased many treasures.  Treasures 
that I still enjoy today here in Texas.  Whenever anyone entered the shop they were
always greeted with a big hello from Janice.   I can still here her voice calling
out "Hello Miss Susan".   The same friendly greeting came from Patsy too if
she was there.

Blue Moon Antiques was in the heart of the North End.  The North End
is a historic district filled with charming turn of the century homes that
have been lovingly restored and is just walking distance to the center
of the city.  The architectural beauty of this old cottage that housed
the antique shop added to the shopping experience.  Over the many
years I visited, this front bay window would be filled with the
most enticing treasures.

The wood floors would creak under my feet as I strolled around
savoring every moment I spent looking at all sorts of small
pieces of furniture and china and crystal.

Vintage linens were always carefully pressed and beautifully displayed.  I cannot 
begin to tell you about the happy hours I spent going through stacks like these, all
the while happily chatting away with Janice or Patsy.  Janice has a real love for
vintage linens and I certainly collected my share of them over the years.

I was just thinking about how glad I am I took these photos of the shop.

If you needed a bit of lace trim for a project, all you had to do was
sort through acrylic boxes filled to the brim with bits of this and that.

So much variety.  Janice had it all.

Janice has had a tough couple of years.  She had a physical setback and has
sold her shop and the lovely old cottage that housed it for so many years.  It is
a new chapter in her life.   Janice and Patsy and I still stay in touch via
the wonders of the internet.  Our love of antiques and vintage treasures
brought us together and the friendship we share will last a lifetime.
Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me. 

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Friday, May 22, 2015

Healthy Lunch from Leftovers in the Fridge

This morning was really a busy one.  I was doing some housework and laundry
and John our pest control miracle worker was coming over for our quarterly
spray to wipe out unwelcome Texas critters from the garden and house.

After John finished up and all the laundry was folded, I felt really
hungry.  I had skipped my usual oatmeal and berries and only had
a cup of tea ….

What can I eat???

I try to eat a healthy diet every day.  It's my own attitude about health
insurance.  I pay for it but seldom use it.  When I can stay out of the 
doctor's office, I am a happy camper.  Anyway ~ let's check the fridge ….

Left over brown rice from last night.  What can I do with this?
I grabbed a handful of slivered almonds and tossed them into a dry
skillet to toast for a bit.  Not too long, I don't want them to burn, only
to bring out their natural oils and enhance the flavor.

What else?  I have brussels sprouts in the veggie drawer.  I know David
won't eat them, but I do love them.  So I took a few, washed them and
started peeling off the outer leaves until I had a nice little pile.

I took the toasted almonds out of the pan and set them aside in a little
dish.  Then I added some olive oil to the pan, let it get hot and dumped
the brussels sprouts leaves into the hot oil.  I cooked them long enough to
get all glistening and hot but not brown.

Then I whisked together some olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard
in my vintage measuring cup.  I added some salt and pepper,
and whisked again.

I put the rice on a plate, covered it with the brussels sprouts leaves,
the toasted almonds and a couple of chopped up dates and drizzled
over the dressing.  

I filled one of my favorite hobnail glasses with ice water and lemon,
put everything on a wicker tray and headed out to the family room 
to watch an old movie and pray that we don't get anymore
thunderstorms and tornado warnings this afternoon.

How was the salad from leftovers?  Really good!

That's what I have been doing on this Friday before the long
holiday weekend.  What have you been up to?

By the way ~ Bentley always has to give John a big
greeting when he stops by.  John and his wife have a Yorkie
too ~ a little female.   Hmmm….  Puppies perhaps???

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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