F Simple and Serene Living: May 2015 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.

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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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Monday, May 18, 2015


I recently had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with four other bloggers and a renowned gynecologist, Dr. Mary Jane Minkin in a Google Hangout, to talk about changes women can expect before, during, and after menopause. Like many women in this age range we had many questions we wanted to ask the doctor. 

I have to admit that I was just a wee bit nervous beforehand. First of all, I hate being videotaped and secondly I come from a generation that doesn't always sit down and openly discuss these topics. However, once the Hangout began there were no nervous butterflies. I felt like I was sitting around my coffee table talking with a group of friends I had known forever. 

I am not sure when the last time was that I laughed so much. I knew that we were all in this together. We were kindred spirits who all shared many of the same problems and concerns about our aging bodies. This was true even though we ranged in age from the late forties to the early sixties. Three of the women were married, one was a widow, and I have been single for a long period of time. 

Not every question that was asked pertained to each of us, but I think we each could relate in some way. 

This Hangout was sponsored by Replens vaginal moisturizer, and I was particularly excited about getting more information because I had just recently purchased the product. About two months ago I went to see my woman's health care provider because I had what I thought was a stubborn yeast infection. Turns out I have a common problem that happens to many women as we age. Apparently our vaginal walls tend to dry out, thin out, and become itchy as we age due to lack of estrogen. Not very comfy I am here to tell you. So what's a girl to do? I knew enough to add lots of moisturizer to my drying skin, (I love hearing people say I am young looking for my age, but believe me there are days when I feel like my whole body is turning into a dried up prune) but I wasn't quite sure what to do about this problem. That is where Replens came in. My healthcare provider said it would really help my problem. Still, I am ever the sceptic and I am not one to add things to my body without lots of research. My research was handed to me in the form of the wonderful Dr. Minkin.

Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, is a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.  Dr. Minkin has a special interest in reproductive health and menopause, and has written several books for women on these topics.

I felt like I had the best expert right in my own home. It was just like a good old fashioned house call where you can take your time and share all of your concerns with a caring doctor. 

There is so much more I could tell you about our get together, but lucky for all of us our session was videotaped and you, my sweet readers, have the opportunity to learn what those of us in the group did. Although I am being compensated by Replens for this post, all opinions are my own and I am very, very happy with the product. I hope you enjoy the video.

The opinions expressed in this video are those of the participants and are not those of Church & Dwight Co., Inc.

Replens is the clinically tested, doctor recommended brand of long-lasting vaginal moisturizer. As with dry skin that you experience on your face and hands, regular moisturizing treatment with Replens Long-Lasting vaginal moisturizer may be necessary to prevent dryness from recurring. Replens Long-Lasting vaginal moisturizer is different from most other lotions or lubricants because it contains a patented bio-adhesive ingredient that allows it to attach to dry vaginal cells and deliver continuous moisture for up to three days. Click here to learn more. 

What questions would you have had for Dr. Minkin? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

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Saturday, May 16, 2015


When I woke up this morning the rain was slashing against the windows, the tires were swishing past in the puddles, and you were on my mind. 

You see, I haven't been able to be with you as much for the last week and I worry that you will think I am neglecting our friendship. Of course I would never do that, but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, and visiting, and just keeping up. 

The independent living apartments, where my mom has been living for the past two years, were just not working out. Too expensive, too many internal problems, and no real security system in place. So last year we put her on the waiting list for a different apartment and her name finally came up. Yesterday we signed the lease and she took possession of what will be her new home. 

That means I am busy helping her with her move and it means a few other things are having to slide. By the end of next week I hope to have her all settled in with the pictures hung on the walls, and I will be able to get back to my normal routine. 

In the meantime, please know that you are on my mind. Oh, and that is my new antique iron bed I bought this winter. I've been meaning to show it to you, and here it is now in a post that has nothing to do with finding the perfect iron bed. That's just how things happen sometimes. 

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P.S. Make sure you check back here on Monday. I will be here and and you will get to see what I did recently with a group of other women bloggers. I haven't seen it yet and I am a bit nervous about it. 

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Friday, May 15, 2015


There are many reasons I love summer, but one of the main ones is that I can walk barefooted. As a child I would kick off the flip flops, unbuckle the sandals, and toss aside the Keds so that I could run through the grass in bare feet. Yes, there were the occasional stings from an angry bee because I invaded his turf, but the feel of the grass and the earth was worth it.

Now I am finding out all of the wonderful benefits of barefooting.


Walking barefooted is also known as "earthing", and besides the benefits listed above it has other remarkable health advantages "such as increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep". You can read more at Mind Body Green. 

Maybe we knew a lot more than we thought we did as children. So get out there and enjoy the feel of the grass on your bare feet. Your body and mind will thank you.

Barefooting is simplicity and serenity at its best.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Family, we all have one in some form or another, and with family comes a certain number of obligations. 

Help me, Give me, Take me, Show me!!!

For the most part we love our families and we want to help in every way that we can, but sometimes obligations are inconvenient. That is when the problems arise. This is especially true if you have been the go to person. You are somehow made to feel guilty for not doing your familial duty even if there is another family member who can help, but just doesn't. 

Obligation is a very weighty word that implies a requirement, a duty, and that weight can wear you down. It can very easily foster resentment. I know, because I have been feeling that weight and resentment. 

So instead of looking at something as an obligation, I decided that I would instead look at it as a choice. I have the ability to make a choice for or against something. I can take what I consider to be either the moral high road or the moral low road. It is up to me. 

I choose the moral high road because it gives me a sense of satisfaction and empowerment. I feel good about what I am doing and suddenly I no longer feel like the victim. The weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. 

How do you handle family "obligations"?

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P.S. Find more of Women Speak here

P.P.S. I have moved Women Speak to Wednesdays because I am cutting my posts back to three or four times a week. I want to spend more time on each post and hopefully make each one more relevant to your lives. 

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Monday, May 11, 2015


"Unless someone can look into the core of your heart and see the degree of your passion, or look into the depths of your soul and see the extent of your will, then they have no business telling you what you can or cannot achieve. Because while they may know the odds, they do not know you. Nor do they know the power of your angels."
                                                          -Sandra King

I need to paste this on my mirror and read it several times a day to remind myself that I am the expert on me.

What makes others want to hold us back, to determine the course of our lives? Is it their fear that we may follow our dreams and be happy? Is it their fear that we may somehow surpass them?

While they are clinging to their old ways, we are forging ahead and taking the road less travelled. Because taking the road less travelled leads us to unexplored and unimaginable places.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
Robert Frost

We have to be willing in life to make mistakes, because those mistakes help to teach us and they help to set us on our own right path. We have to be willing to dance to the beat of our own drum, to move forward with purpose. 

It may not always be easy and it may be met with resistance, but in the end we will know that we have followed our hearts and that is where satisfaction lies. 

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P.S. Find more Monday Inspiration here.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015


Tomorrow is that most special of days for mothers. It is the day where those of us who are mothers get lauded for something that we love more than anything. The privilege of being a mother.

I don't think that any mother will tell you that every moment is bliss. There are ups and downs and joys and sorrows in the relationships we have with our children. There are also seasons in those relationships. There is nurturing of the mother for the child and nurturing of the child for the mother. 

There is the relationship I have with my own mother, the relationship I have with my now adult children, and the relationship I see my daughter have with her own children. I remember a time when I wondered if I could ever fully love anyone in this world. Then I gave birth to my daughters. It completely changed my perspective on love. 

I would never claim to have been a perfect mother. Like all mothers I made my share of mistakes. Some big and some small. I continue to make mistakes as I weave my way through the ever changing relationships of a mother with her children, but I know that as a mother, I would lay down my life for those daughters. 

Tomorrow we celebrate motherhood, but I believe for a mother every day is in some way a celebration. For we are given a privilege that only comes with being a mother.

Happy Mother's Day!!

I am taking Mother's Day off. It will be difficult to not pick up my computer, but that is my plan. I will be spending the day with my mother, who is ninety years young. My mom and I have not always had an easy relationship, but I know there are probably not a lot of Mother's Days left for us to be together. So I plan to enjoy the day.

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