F Simple and Serene Living 09 10
Saturday, May 30, 2015


We may be downsizing, but downsizing does not mean we want to give up our gardens. However, smaller living spaces often correlate with smaller outdoor spaces, and that means we may have to get creative with our gardens. That is where the concept of vertical gardens may become something that will work for us. 

I think this is a great idea for growing herbs. Mason jars are everywhere and I love the look of these on a wall.

mason jars herbs wall garden
Are you getting ready to replace some old gutters or pipes? Here is an idea for a kitchen garden that will help to recycle them. Just make sure to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.

pipes gutters vertical kitchen garden
I love this. When my children were young, we lived in California and had grape vines over a portion of our patio. There was always a healthy snack close by. I would love to have strawberries ready for picking.

strawberries trellis garden overhead
So many vegetables can be grown vertically. All you need is a sunny space and a little ingenuity.

squash tomatoes vertical garden
And don't forget the flowers. This is such a cute idea using an old shutter.

old shutter flowers garden vertical
So let's get vertical, because there are so many ways to keep on gardening even when we have a much smaller space.

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P.S. you can find more of my small spaces series here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015


Why does it seem so difficult at times to treat ourselves with the same kindness respect, and compassion that we show to others. How can we be truly kind to others if we are not genuinely kind to ourselves. Also, our treatment of ourselves is mirrored in the treatment that we show to other people, and the way that we treat ourselves tells others how we want to be treated. 

kindness self

How do we break the habit of not treating ourselves with kindness.

1) Decide that you will begin to start focusing on the positives instead of the negatives. Reflect each day on what you did right instead of the mistakes that you made. (Everyone makes mistakes. It is how we learn.)

2) Take time to do something that makes you happy. Instead of telling yourself that you are too busy or that it will cost too much, allow yourself to do something special. It is important to give yourself a treat.

3) Take care of both your physical and emotional well being. Eat a healthy diet, go out for a walk or a bike ride, and take time to sit quietly. Yoga and meditation are both activities that will help to calm you.

4) Be open to change. What you wanted in the past for your life may not be what is best for you now. Explore new possibilities and know that it may not only be okay to make a change, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you. Changes do not have to be big. Even small changes can make a difference in your well being.

5) Allow yourself to love and to be loved. Open your heart to the people around you, and open your heart to loving yourself. Even sharing a smile is something that not only makes others feel better, but can be a loving thing you can do for yourself. 

Learning to treat yourself with kindness is like any other habit. It will take some work, but it will definitely be worth the effort.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Life's Simple Pleasures – Enjoying Cocktails on the Patio with Dear Friends

After spending a typical busy day making one quick decision after another and attending to all the many tasks I have to complete, for me, there's no better way to unwind and relax than sitting outdoors on my patio enjoying drinks with dear friends. There's something about an early summer evening with the sound of crickets chirping and birds singing that seems to just melt away the day's stresses and strains. And being able to share this peace and tranquility with dear friends is all the more rewarding.

Often on days like this, I come home, change into my favorite casual attire, sit down and put my feet up. I take in all the incredible natural beauty I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by here in the area where I live. This is precious 'alone time' for me when I think back to the day's events and give a thought or two to what I must do tomorrow. But no matter how many thoughts are racing through my mind, I always remind myself of how very lucky I am to live such a rewarding life even though it's a very busy one.

I'm also very fortunate to have two dear friends living nearby with whom I get together with often. We've found our little oasis here on my backyard patio where we meet regularly during the summer months to share a few refreshing drinks at day's end as we enjoy the last bit of sun and lingering warmth of the day.

As I sit here now waiting for my friends to arrive, I glance at the beautiful antique brass Arteriors bar cart next to me that's become a mainstay of my patio. I think about all the grand times my friends and I have spent here sipping drinks and discussing life and all its trials and tribulations. While the three of us all lead very different lives, we've managed to form a strong bond of kinship as we tell stories, share a few laughs and even an occasional tear.

With all the craziness happening in this big mad world we live in, sometimes I think the cure to many woes is for everyone to take time out of their busy lives each day just to relax, unwind and give thanks for the little things in life. It truly is the small things that count like taking the time to appreciate the sight of the season's first flowers blooming as they unfurl their splendid beauty for us to enjoy. 

P.S. A bar cart is a 'must-have' if you enjoy entertaining in your special outdoor space where you spend time sharing drinks with your dearest friends and family members.  If you want to find one like the Arteriors bar cart mentioned above, you can find them here.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Give me a show of hands please. Who here is perfect? Wait, you in the back there....the one with your hand up....you are not perfect, so put that hand down. 

okay, they can raise their hands, because in my eyes they are perfect
When did it happen that we all were made to believe that we had to be perfect? We have to have the perfect house, be the perfect parent, be the perfect grandparent, be the perfect friend, practice the perfect religion..........just be soooo perfect that we couldn't possibly stand ourselves. 

WHEW!!!! what a relief to get all of that out. No wonder we are all so stressed out we can't seem to accomplish anything. We are so busy trying to live up to the standards of perfection we find on the internet every day, we have forgotten what it is to just be in the moment. 

I remember when my daughters were young, I told them I was going to be a normal mother. You know the kind I mean. The perfect June Cleaver mother who did everything perfectly. After about two minutes they told me to knock it off because I was creeping them out. So I just went back to being me, a very not so perfect kind of mother. The kind of mother who let them do the kind of things you can find here

I am here to say that not only am I not perfect, I make all kinds of mistakes, and it is okay. 

I often say the wrong things to people. OOPS!! Sorry I didn't mean it the way it sounded, but I am not perfect. 

My house gets messy. It is not one of those look at my house I am the perfect decorator who never makes a mess kind of houses. I live in my house. Sometimes I am so tired at night that my clothes get thrown on the back of a chair. They may stay there for two days. It's okay, I am not perfect. 

Just as I wasn't the perfect mother, I am also not the so called perfect grandmother. But guess what, my grandchildren love me anyway. We always giggle together when we talk or see each other. They don't know what a perfect grandmother is supposed to be like. They just know that I love them and they love me.

So now here is a message for that person in the back row who had their hand up. Relax!!! It is okay that you aren't perfect. None of us are. Look around at the people in your "real" life. They aren't perfect and they don't expect you to be either, and if they do expect perfection from you, maybe it is time to set them straight or to get new friends. 

I am not sure when this need to be perfect in a very imperfect world started, but maybe it's time to start living in the moment and stop comparing ourselves to everyone else. I intend to spend my day with not perfect hair, wearing not perfect clothes, and driving a not perfect car. HMMMMM!! Those just might be the ingredients for a perfect kind of day. 

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Monday, May 25, 2015


 Each year on Memorial day I repost this post that is special to my heart.

my dad as a young businessman

 Today is Memorial Day and as on all Memorial Days, I think of my late father. George Reece Holloway was a lieutenant and later promoted to a captain in the United States Air Force in WWII. He served his country valiantly. The P-38 plane he was piloting was shot down on June 20, 1944. He was sent to a German POW camp at Stalag Luft I where he was kept until liberated by the American forces. He was called up again during the Korean War and with his young family (I was a baby) went to Texas to train other pilots.

From P-38 Lightning losses June, 1944

"P-38 J 42-67963. 370th Fighter Group. (Plane shot down at 17H30 -German time- near La Puthenaye, N.W. of Conches. Pilot, Lt George R. HOLLOWAY, is captured a few moments later at Grosley and sent to Chartres interrogation center)." 

My dad as a young officer.

Eighteen years ago, my father passed away after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. He died with the same bravery and dignity that he had when serving his country.

Landing of the first P-38 on the mainland near Ste Mère l'Eglise (US National Archives).
photo via Lightning losses

So today. a special thanks to all the men and women who have protected our country.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Hello lovely friends. I am so glad that you are still here. That you have managed to fight your way through the cobwebs on this blog this past week.

historic greenhouse summer

Mom is moved into her new apartment. Hooray!! There are still boxes to be unpacked and pictures to be hung, but I told her I needed a day off. Besides the fact that every muscle in my body is complaining, my life has gotten a bit dusty, and I'm not just talking about the furniture in my home (although it definitely needs dusting). My blog, my Etsy shop, my antique booth, and my life in general have been in a holding pattern and they all need to be dusted off and put back into circulation. 

greenhouse florist historic

Life has gotten to be anything but simple and serene with this move. It seems that when you look away for a bit, problems seem to mount up, as if they are just waiting for you to lose your focus so they can sneak in and disrupt the flow you have worked so hard to create. 

historic greenhouse rustic

Today I will work to recapture that flow and to get rid of the dust and cobwebs. I am making my list. There are phone calls to be made, items to be photographed and listed in my shop, blogs to visit, advertisers to catch up with, an auction to attend, and most importantly of all a Facetime date with my grandchildren this afternoon.

historic greenhouse plums

It will be a busy day, but it feels good to be getting back to my life today. No matter how much we love our families and want to help them, we have to remember to take care of ourselves too. 

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Thursday, May 21, 2015


Outdoor dining doesn't have to be elaborate to be fun and entertaining, and I found some great ideas for simple outdoor dining at Country Living

Pulling out some vintage items from around the house to use as props for an impromptu Friday night fish fry is always fun.

I love old fashioned picnic tables. This one has been painted white and topped with a basket of lemons for a fresh simple look.

An eclectic mix of vintage china and chairs under the shade of an old tree is a wonderful way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Summer is the perfect time to bring out those colorful table accessories. A brightly striped galvanized tub is a fun way to serve up cold drinks at a summer picnic. 

Summertime entertaining doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. A little imagination and using items you already have on hand may be all you need for a fun gathering for friends and family.

All photos via Country Living.

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P.S. I am busy helping my mom move this week so Women Speak will return next Thursday. Past weeks of Women Speak can be found here.

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