Friday, August 22, 2014

I Am Afraid ~ Are You?

As I gaze upon the mini violets that are happily blooming on my
kitchen windowsill I am thinking about how I should be happy and
content.  Everything in my little world is solid and happy.  I have a
loving husband of 25 years.  I could not love him more.  I have an
adorable dog who brings me joy each and every day.  He is the
dearest companion.  I love him with my whole heart.  Our home is
comfy and content.  We live in a nice neighborhood with friendly
neighbors.  Why then would I worry?  Why am I afraid?

Of all the potential threats to our happiness, our security, the 
safety of our family and friends and our way of life there is one
threat that scares me the most ...

ISIS or ISL or whatever they choose to call themselves.  I am
probably more concerned than the average American about this
militant group.  After spending three years living in the Middle East 
and spending most of my life as the daughter of a man who 
spent all of his career in international business and regularly reported
to Washington, my antenna is up.  The group that beheaded 
freelance journalist James Foley and is threatening to behead 
another journalist is a well funded, well organized group who
have recruited foreign nationals into their ranks.  Speaking to
lawmakers at a House on Foreign Affairs committee, Brett
McGurk a deputy assistant secretary of state said of ISIS,
"It is Al Qaeda in it's doctrine, ambition and increasingly in it's
threat to the US interest.  In fact, it is worse than Al Qaeda."

In addition, Army General Martin Dempsey chairman of the 
Joint Chief of Staff  told reporters:
"This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days
strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated."

What will be our response to such an organization?   In fact it's no longer just
a terrorist organization (if that's not bad enough)  it has become, from what
I have read, a full blown army.  An army has one of two purposes.  It
is formulated to protect it's citizens, or it is formulated to expand it's
territories.  ISIS has made their intent known.  They don't follow any
diplomatic rules.  They won't be satisfied until they over turn the entire region.
Once they achieve that objective, what will their next one be?

In the famous words of Lord John Acton ~
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupt

While I don't like to bring up unpleasantries on a Friday before
what will hopefully be a happy and carefree weekend, when is
a good time to bring up a topic such as this?  I have not forgotten
September 11, 2001.  I do not want our nation to have to
experience anything remotely like that ever again.  Our freedom
is priceless.  It is sought after.  It is to be cherished and protected.
We cannot afford to lose it.

If you have any interest in studying more of the thought of
Lord John Acton, here is the link to the Acton Institute.

God Bless us all,
Susan and Bentley

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Hutch Filled With Love

This hutch is in my breakfast room.  It's old and well worn and well 
loved not just for itself, but also for what it holds.  Everything inside
from it's cupboard at the bottom and open shelves at the top is filled
with precious memories of ones I have loved.

This covered casserole and the matching platter behind it belonged to 
my Mom.  She loved blue and white as do I.  The hobnail pitcher was
hers too.  It is both squatty and sweet I think.  The toast rack in the
foreground was a purchase of mine because we love toast in this house!

I love the cream soup bowls.  These belonged to my Mom as well.

This little blue calico square tea pot was purchased at the British Isles shop
in Houston years ago before David and I were married.  I was so very
happy to visit the shop when we were last in Houston.  It's always so
comforting to discover that a little shop you loved years ago is still
in existence.  I treasure small independent shops.  I know how hard
it is for them to survive in our world of big box stores.

See the cups hanging from hooks?  I purchased a whole set of these 
dishes while I was in London with my parents.  I had them shipped back to
the states and every piece arrived in perfect condition.  The Brits are so
good at shipping china.  This is a Mason's pattern.  We don't see much
of this china company in the states.  My mother-in-law had a lovely
Mason's pattern as her every day dishes.  It came from Carl Forslund in
Michigan years ago who used to specialize in colonial furniture and
accessories for the home.  I have a few pieces of her set.  It is 
called Plantation Colonial.  I will have to show it to you sometime.

Notice the little butter pats.  I love these.  I only have two and
wish I could find more.

The little Cafe Paris covered tureen is a purchase from a consignment
shop.  I have two and they were a steal.  The woven flower basket on
the left belonged to my grandmother.  The copper tea kettle is from
my step grandfather.  He brought it over from Sweden.

If you look to the right in the background there is a little sandwich
tray.  It is Mason's also.  My Mom and I each purchased one while we
were in London.  Now I have both of them.  I have such happy memories
of the day we found these little trays.  I remember we both squealed in
delight and could hardly wait to take them back home to serve little 
tea sandwiches on.

My little patriotic pie bird.  I found this at a cute little shop in Fredericksburg, TX.
David and I spent the weekend of our 25th wedding anniversary there just
this past June.  It's a wonderful little reminder of the very special weekend
we spent in that oh so charming town.

I purchased this tole tray at a wonderful antique store in new Hampshire.
David's mom had the most charming summer cottage on Mirror Lake
in New Hampshire.  We used to go visit her there in the summer while
David and I were living in Middleburg, Virginia.  Lee's summer
cottage was so adorable.  It had the sweetest little kitchen with an old
fashioned farmhouse sink and the cutest vintage refrigerator.  There was
an old screen door in the kitchen that squeaked and banged and took
you out to the deck.  There was one main living area with a stone fireplace.
The whole cottage was quite rustic and had a screened in porch that 
overlooked the lake.  There were two small bedrooms that had those
old built in dressers and windows framed by old fashioned Priscilla
tie back curtains.  Lee always had vintage handmade quilts on the bed.
To David and I it was the most charming cottage in the world and 
we have so many happy memories of spending our evenings 
listening to the loons on the lake while playing cut throat games
of Scrabble.  David almost always won which drove Lee and
me nuts!

That cute little tea pot in front of the tray is from the King's Arms
Tavern in Williamsburg.  It was a gift from my sister-in-law

The little girl tying her shoe is Royal Copenhagen.  She was a gift to me
from my mother-in-law Lee.  The milk glass pitcher belonged to my

And finally, Mrs Rabbit and her bunnies with Peter Rabbit looking
quite the gentleman.   There is a Beatrix Potter plate in the 
background because I love Beatrix.  Always have.

So there you are.  A little tour of my antique hutch that is full
of memories of people I love and happy times.  Thanks for
stopping by.

Bentley had a very exciting morning.  He discovered a
big cat asleep in the ginger and he flushed the cat out
and the cat ran up the big old oak tree.  Bentley was
extremely proud of himself and his Daddy was too
and Bentley got a treat.  High adventure :-)

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How To Lose A Blog In Ten Days

Have you ever seen the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?
It's a cute chick flick that has been on television many times
about a journalist (Kate Hudson) who works for a woman's
magazine called Composure.  Andie Anderson (Kate) longs to
write serious pieces on topics that interest her like politics and
religion.  Her editor reminds her that Composure is geared to
fluffy topics, salacious gossip and How To's.  She also tells
Andie that until she develops a following she will have to 
write what she is told to write.  Andie reluctantly concedes and
agrees to write a fluffy little piece on what not to do to keep 
a guy, hoping that after this piece she will be able to write
about the things that really interest her.

I have been writing posts on Ash Tree Cottage for a little over
four years now.  I have posted about decorating, tablescapes, 
repurposing and repainting furniture.  While I enjoy posting 
about all of the above, it's not the only side of me.  I have 
great concerns about our nation's future.  I am disturbed by
a new and steadily growing wave of terrorism.  I worry 
about the potential spread of Ebola.  While our border is
unsecured I am concerned that not everyone who crosses it
is just looking for a better place to live, but could be 
planning another terror attack like 9/11.  I just can't sit back
and not talk about the problems that concern me.
However ...

I will still have posts about collecting.

And repainting and repurposing.

And tablescapes.   

But on some days I will want to inject some grit into 
this blog.  Unlike Andie, I don't have a boss to satisfy.  I am
the writer, editor, photographer of Ash Tree Cottage.  

As ISIS beheads foreign journalists.  While Ebola threatens the
lives of thousands in west African nations and has the 
potential to become a pandemic.  While our border remains
unsecured.  While innocent children are losing their lives 
every day on the streets of Chicago.  While Putin continues
to flex his muscle in the Ukraine ...  I can no longer sit by and
only write about fluffy stuff.  

I don't want to learn how to lose a blog in 10 days
so I hope you will stick around while I write about 
some of the gritty issues of life from time to time.
It won't happen every time I write a post, just when 
the spirit or the news compels me.  As much as I 
would like to live in a peaceful world I do not, 
so I can't just pretend these problems do not exist.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Daydreaming and Why It's Good For You

Daydreams come from the right side of the brain.  The feminine
and creative side.  When I was a young girl in school I was often
so bored with the lessons that my mind would wander off in all
directions.  Of course I was always called back into reality by my
teacher.  How often had you heard someone say ~
"stop daydreaming"?  It's often considered to be a waste of time
or the behavior of a lazy person.  In truth, there are some very 
good reasons to daydream.

The left side of the brain controls the concrete solutions.  It is
the side we use when we need to go over the budget or complete
a math problem.  The right side of the brain is the creative side.
It's the side we use when we creatively find ways to stretch
that budget.  I have read that daydreaming is a way for us to 
harness our imagination to find positive solutions to our 
problems.  Daydreaming allows us to safely travel between our
past memories and the future and to figure out ways to create
positive outcomes.  

Scientists have studied the works of both Newton and Einstein.
They have discovered that both of these men had some of their most
important discoveries when they allowed themselves to 
daydream.  You may not be looking to find the answer to a
scientific question yet you can use a daydream to relax,
to improve a relationship or boost productivity just by allowing
your mind to wander a bit. 

So go ahead and feel free to put your feet up and enjoy a good
daydream.  After all ~ it's the feminine thing to do!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Little Cottages Make My Heart Flutter


You can show me the biggest mcmansion ever and I won't be in love.
The houses that make my heart flutter are the charming little cottages.
Show me a sweet little cottage and I am guaranteed to start


Add an arbor and a picket fence ~ better call 911 :-)


Sweet stone chimney, cute little windows with tie back priscilla curtains.


Cupid ~ you just shot an arrow through my heart!


While I sit back and try to get my heart rate back down to normal,
I will let you gaze upon some more cottage cuteness.

Disclaimer:  Should you choose to continue gazing further, I am
not responsible for any heart palpitations ;-)





How are you feeling?  Okay?  Ready to go on???





Compose yourself and have a wonderful weekend!

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley


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