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I'm Laura. Welcome to Simple and Serene Living. I've worn many hats in my life on this fabulous planet; daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, and friend. This space is one of my favorite hats.
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Friday, July 23, 2021

This week I was looking back at the things I have purchased on Amazon and thought I would share some of my favorites finds with you.

I think most of us have a Prime membership, but if for some reason you have been on the fence about it now is your chance to try it with a Prime 30-day free trial

Favorite finds from Amazon

Full disclosure: I did plan to take photos of these items in my home, but the weather was too gray and rainy, I had a toothache, and the dog ate my homework.

Kitchen Finds

Because I live in a city apartment, with a small galley kitchen where storage is at a premium, I am very selective about my kitchen purchases. 

After going five years without a microwave (apparently I thought I was Laura in Little House On The Prairie instead of Laura in the twenty first century) I decided to buy a microwave. 

So happy that I did because this microwave is the perfect size for my small kitchen and works great. I use it every day.

Black and Decker microwave

I know I have shared some of these before, but this can opener is one that I love. It fits in my junk neatly organized kitchen drawer where it is always handy without taking up counter space. 

Kitchen Mama can opener

I don't eat tons of popcorn, but when I do I always seem to make too much. Plus, I don't like the added calories of oil. I found this great little microwave corn popper that makes just the right amount. No oil needed, but it you love buttered popcorn you can add butter.

microwave corn popper

Do you like to cook in a slow cooker? Whether cooking for a family or just for one it's a great way to eat right. I can pop my meal in this crock pot in the morning and at the end of the day, when I am too tired to cook, dinner is ready.

I love adding the leftovers to the freezer for future dinners.

slow cooker

Crock pot meals can be a healthy way to eat with clean eating recipes from this crock pot cookbook.

clean eating slow cooker cookbook

Sheet Set

How high can I sing the praises of these sheets. Apparently not high enough, because they discontinued my pattern. Fortunately, I bought a second set two years ago and both sets are still beautiful. 

They do have other patterns available and because the quality and price are so great for these 100% cotton sheets, when I do need new sheets in the future I will once again purchase a set from this company.

I'm putting these blue striped sheets on my wish list. Check them out. They have some pretty florals too. 

100% cotton blue striped sheets

Healthy Living

This bathroom scale has been around apparently forever and I bought a vintage one a couple of months ago thinking it probably no longer worked correctly and would take 50 pounds off my weight. 

No such luck for me, but if you want a scale that will correctly weigh you until the end of time I highly recommend this mechanical scale. It looks just like the one in my grandmother's house and in mine, minus the rust.

health o meter mechanical bathroom scale
My grandson bought me an oil diffuser for Christmas a couple of years ago and I found that I love Eucalyptus oil for its smell and it helps me breathe.

I like the soft changing lights and natural wood look of my oil diffuser.

wood look oil diffuser

Both my plants and I love my two cool mist humidifiers

cool mist humidifier

 Throw Rugs

I have never actually thrown a rug, although I have been tempted to throw mine at the TV or my computer on occasion. 

The new small rug that I purchased for my entry hall is not only highly durable, stain-resistant, and reasonably priced, it is also recreated from a one of a kind rug and has that vintage look that I love. 

LOLOI throw rug with a vintage look

I can no longer find the Nichole Miller indoor outdoor rug that I bought for my bathroom, but this one is equally as pretty and like the rug in my entry hall has a great vintage look.

Nichole Miller indoor outdoor rug

Houseplant Pots

I shared this pretty set of four houseplant pots a couple of months ago, but as they seem to be pretty popular I thought I would share them again. 

set of four green ceramic houseplant pots.

More Favorite Finds

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This post contains affiliate links from Amazon for which I may receive a small commission.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My stress level is really high, and I know that it is affecting my health and well-being. 

As a former mental health counselor, I also know that it is time for me to jump back on the meditation train. Somehow, I let life get in the way of my meditation practice, so I am going to stop each day, or multiple times a day and meditate.


Stress and Its Symptoms

Stress is the body's reaction to either real or perceived harmful situations. When we feel threatened we go into what is known as "fight or flight" mode. 

Some Physical symptoms of stress:

  • headaches
  • upset stomach
  • aches and pains
  • rapid heartbeat
  • inability to sleep
  • frequent infections 
  • nervousness

Some emotional symptoms of stress:

  • anxiety
  • moodiness
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • loneliness
  • isolation
Shop Practicing Mindfulness Book

rowboats on serene lake


There are many things you can do to relieve stress, but as a former counselor I found that meditation is one of the best ways. Meditation is simple, can be practiced wherever you are, and is inexpensive. I practice meditation while in the waiting room at the doctor or dentist.

Meditation helps to focus your mind and organize your jumbled thoughts. It can produce feelings of tranquility and peacefulness, which can last throughout your day. 

Meditation benefits you both physically and emotionally. 

vintage bottles

Some Possible Physical Benefits of Meditation:

Some research has suggested that meditation complements traditional medicine in the reduction of symptoms in some illnesses.

  • anxiety
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • irritable bowel diease
  • sleep problems
  • tension headaches
Some Possible Emotional Benefits of Meditation:

  • building skills to manage your stress
  • increasing self awareness
  • focusing on the present
  • reducing negative emotions
  • increasing patience and tolerance
sailboat on a tranquil sea

Shop White Sage Smudge Candle

Important Things To Remember

There are no hard and fast rules to meditating. You can choose the type of meditation practice that works best for you. 

I like to set a time of about ten to twenty minute first thing in the morning to start my day. Then throughout the day if I am feeling stressed I will sit quietly and practice deep breathing. 

Some people prefer guided meditations. I like to turn on soft meditation music. 

A comfortable position, a quiet setting, relaxed breathing, and focused attention are all important. Yes, intrusive thoughts will enter your mind. Acknowledge them and then brush them away. 

Shop Meditation Journal

Meditation takes practice. Don't judge yourself, because that defeats the purpose. Relax and enjoy your quiet time.


Read more about Healthy Living

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Although this 1830 Vermont house was full of charm, it was in bad condition, and long-time homeowner  Jane Benson Ackerman was thinking it was time to move on.


Vermont farmhouse

The house was dark and infested with rodents, which drove the owner to look for a new house in town. 

When she was unable to find what she wanted she came to the realization that she already had an historical gem and decided that she needed to restore it. 

Living Room

Ackerman decided to restore the house in phases and started by turning the living room and dining room into a single room, which has created an open airy space.

She began to collect architectural antiques along with vintage furniture that would amplify the historic character of her home. It was a thoughtful process that was not rushed.

Farmhouse living room

The house is large with modest size rooms. The furniture, which although vintage is not valuable, adds to the hominess of the space. Much of the furniture was inherited from an old family Great Caamp at Lake Placid.

Built-in bookshelves frame light giving windows. 

I really love the combination of furniture she has chosen. 

Shop Leather Chairs 


The main staircase was reconfigured and also includes a built-in bookcase, as do many of the other rooms, to house the owner's extensive collection of books. As you are walking up the stairs at night you can just choose a book for bedtime reading. 

farmhouse staircase in historic home

A beautiful floral rug and light-colored vintage furniture anchor the space. I love that the uncovered windows allow for maximum light.

Shop Floral Rugs

The Kitchen

I think this might possibly be my dream kitchen.

This large bright eat-in kitchen is a product of the owner's wish list. The old garage was torn down and a new two-story 665 square foot addition was added, with the kitchen occupying the ground floor and an office and studio on the second. 

vermont farmhouse kitchen

The light from the windows is amazing in this space where a salvaged sink, a large built-in made to look like a vintage piece of furniture, and salvaged hand-planed, wide planked floors take center stage.

Shop Vintage Style Kitchen Faucet

Book Nooks

Fitting 3700 books into 2000 sq. feet requires spaces for books in every room. This means not only built-in bookshelves, but book nooks carved out of walls. Every room in the house, including the bathrooms, has bookshelves.

powder room with built in book shelves

In the powder room, the mirror has been fashioned from a snowshoe, and the vintage soap holder was a salvage find. 

In the guest room the bookshelf is part of a radiator cabinet and serves as a room divider for added privacy.

bookshelves in a guest bedroom

As a former professional bookseller, Jane Ackerman takes her collection seriously. Each room has a different genre and has been put into a database so she can easily find what she wants. 

Shop Soap Holders

Since renovating the home, the upstairs accommodates a one-room airb&b rental. Can I just move in?

Information and photos sourced from Old House Online.

Restored Farmhouse Home Tour

Come visit me on Pinterest

See More Home Tours:

Historic Charmer Meets Modern in Australia here

Modern Meets Traditional In a Victorian Terrace in London here

Arts and Crafts London Garden Flat here

Small Cottage Updated with Color and Pattern here

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon for which I may receive a small commission.


Friday, July 16, 2021

It's summer and I am pining for the beach. However, as it looks like I will once again not be going to gaze upon the ocean this year, I decided to do some internet surfing instead. 

I love coastal living; the blues of the ocean and sky, nautical motifs, light woods, and painted and comfortable furniture. So today let's imagine that we are burying our toes in the sand, sipping a cool drink on a porch overlooking the water, and falling asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the shore. 

Shhhh!! Don't tell anyone, but you don't have to live by the sea to add coastal elements to your home.

cottage by the ocean

Wicker and Rattan

What beach house would be complete without wicker and rattan. A Seagrass basket is perfect for tossing children's toys, paperback romance novels, and clean beach towels. When cold weather returns they are great for storing extra throws. 

large seagrass basket

Shop Seagrass Baskets

When I think of beach houses I picture light wood floors with natural jute rugs, and these affordable and eco-friendly fiber rugs can work with any style of decor. They are perfect for high traffic areas and for concealing stains, and are easily vacuumed and spot cleaned.

jute rug

Shop Jute Rugs

Rattan furniture, including a bedside table, adds to the natural feel of a coastal home.  

Did you know that rattan furniture can last for decades indoors or outside and because it is sustainable material it is good for the environment.

rattan bedside table

Shop Rattan Furniture

Beach Blues

The color blue reflects the sea and sky. A beautiful blue glass vase can hold your collection of sea glass or artificial pampas grass.

large blue glass vase

Shop Blue Glass Vases

How super cute is this blue linocut fish print

linocut blue fish print

At the end of a day spent out on the beach dinner on the couch sounds perfect, especially with these three pretty aqua blue trays

coastal living aqua blue serving trays

Shop Beach Theme Serving Trays

These four beach theme pillow colors will provide a finishing touch to a coastal room. 

beach theme pillow covers

Shop Nautical Theme Pillows

Perfect Light Whites

Coastal decor should be a place where you can shut out the busy world and relax on a comfortable couch with soft lights, and a table to gather around. 

This slipcovered chaise and sleeper sofa combo has easy-to-clean covers and works double duty for you and for overnight guests. 

white slipcovered chaise and sleeper sofa combo

Shop White Slipcovered Furniture

This beautiful lamp will add a modern coastal look to any room with its natural rattan base and crisp white shade.

I love the idea of this folding rustic white table. It's sturdy enough for daily dining or games of Monopoly, but can be folded away when not in use.

folding white pine dining table

Shop White Wood Tables

Coastal Living and Kids

While you are relaxing on the beach or on your cozy sofa the kids will need to be entertained. 

I love this all-in-one beach toy set that contains everything your little one will need for playing in the sand (even if it's just a backyard sandbox.

all in one kids beach toy set

Shop Beach Toys

I have created a Coastal Living idea list in my Amazon storefront where you can find these and other items.

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About Amazon Affiliate Links:

Thank you for reading my blog. I receive a small commission for the affiliate links contained in this post, which helps to supplement my income. I am a retired woman, who spent most of my adult years raising my children, and like many other women, my Social Security isn't enough to support me. When you click on the links and then shop on Amazon your purchases (even if it is food for your pet) are credited to me. I appreciate your support of my small business.



Wednesday, July 14, 2021

 Are you a tea drinker, a coffee drinker, or both? I like both, as long as they are caffeine-free, but I definitely drink more tea than coffee.

In the morning I love choosing which tea I am going to drink, on cold afternoons I love snuggling up with a warm cup of tea, and at night I drink a sleepy time tea to help with sleeping. 

If I had the room I would have a tea bar where I could display pretty teacups, have an electric kettle, and display different teas in glass jars.

I guess my English heritage is showing.

vintage cottage teacup

Loving tea is great, but I often wonder what the benefits are.

Most people know that drinking tea is good for you and in many Asian countries tea is even considered a cure-all. 

Drinking tea can help heart health, brain health, and may even prevent some types of cancer.

pretty afternoon tea cup and pot

Lets Look at some of the types of teas and their benefits.

Green Tea

Green tea originates in China and Japan.

Green tea is high in flavanoids and contributes to heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and reducing blood clots. 

Researchers have studied green tea and found that it can help lower total cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

Shop Green Tea

Tea and cookie time

Black Tea

While both black tea and green tea originate from the same leaves, black tea leaves have been dried and fermented, which gives it its richer flavor and darker color.

Black tea is caffeinated, so if you are like me and can't tolerate caffeine, you may want to steer clear of drinking this tea. I have however, recently found some decaf Earl Grey tea and it is one of my favorites.

However, cooled black tea bags are great for relieving pain and inflammation. When I had a tooth pulled I pressed it on my gums and it worked great. 

Shop Black Tea

outdoor afternoon tea party

Herbal Tea 

Herbal teas are a favorite of mine because they don't contain caffeine. In addition to tea leaves they may contain a blend of herbs, fruits, spices, and other plants, and are known for their calming effects. A word of warning though, if you have lots of allergies like me, please read the labels before consuming. 

Here are some of the most popular herbal teas and their benefits.

Chamomile Tea is known for its calming effect, but it may also treat stomach pain, aid sleep, and promote muscle relaxation.

Ginger Tea is great for helping nausea and upset stomach, but also has anti cancer properties, and helps protect the heart and brain, while lowering blood sugar.

Rooibos Tea originates in South Africa and has potent antioxidants. It also has the potential of reducing high blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and increasing airflow to the lungs. 

Rosehip Tea is a powerful antioxidant and a great source of vitamin C. It may also help with weight loss and protect the skin and brain from aging. 

You can find much more about healing with herbal teas in the Healing Herbal Teas book.

Shop Herbal Teas 

Are you a tea drinker? If so what are your favorite teas?

benefits of drinking tea

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This post contains affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission


Monday, July 12, 2021

Open floating shelves are a great way to display your collections. As an apartment dweller I know that space is at a premium and vertical space is important real estate.

styling shelves vintage style

I love having a place to display the things that I have collected and love, and open shelves give me that opportunity while allowing me to rotate my collections. 

Choosing Your Floating Shelves

There are many different styles of floating shelves, and what you choose will depend on your own personal decor style. 

Let's start with the glass floating shelves. The shelves that I am using today are the glass shelves in my apartment. 

floating glass shelves

I chose to use vintage shelves that I purchased at an estate auction several years ago. I like the glass because I think it adds to a more open look that expands my small space. However, wood floating shelves are also a great look. 

The type of wood you choose will depend on the style of your decor and the look that you are trying to achieve. 

Shop Floating Shelves

Displaying Artwork

Floating shelves are a great place to display art. When we think of displaying our artwork and photos, we usually think of hanging them on the wall, but open shelves allow us to lean them. This is not only great visually, but allows us to rotate our pieces more easily.

vintage harbor paintings

For my shelves I have chosen two vintage paintings. You will notice that one is unframed while the other is in a beautiful gold frame. They both, however, are a similar style, which gives a more cohesive look. For interest, I have staggered them slightly. 

If you love a more eclectic look you may want to experiment with using different styles together. Try different groupings until you get a look you like. 

Shop Vintage Fishing Boat Paintings

Adding Items Of Various Heights And Textures

It's important when choosing your items to choose ones that vary in height as well as texture and that will draw your eye upwards. 

I started by adding my collection of vintage glass apothecary bottles. The bottles are of varying heights and blend well with the oil painting. They also add a pop of color to a mostly neutral theme. 

vintage large brass vessel

On the bottom shelf I chose a large brass vessel along with a small studio pottery bowl. Both pieces have curves lines and work well with the artwork on that shelf. 

small vintage studio pottery bowl

You can see that the shelves are really starting to take shape. 

Shop Studio Pottery Bowl

Displaying Books

Open shelves are a great place to display your books. If you are an avid reader or an old book collector adding books to your shelves is not only great visually, but can help free up other space. 

antique books on a shelf

I chose a small stack of antique books for my vintage themed shelves. I love old books, but new books will work equally well on your shelves and can be stacked as I have them or displayed vertically. 

Shop Design Bloggers At Home Book

Adding Houseplants

It's hard for me to style any area without a houseplant and shelves were made for them.

pothos in home decor

Houseplants add color and life to your shelves and pothos are one of the most forgiving of houseplants. If you just can't get houseplants to grow, then a vase of fresh flowers will make a beautiful addition. 

Shop For Pothos

Well my shelves are done and I am really happy with how they have turned out. 

how to style open floating shelves

The most important thing to remember when you are styling your own open floating shelves is to use the things you love, the things that give you pleasure when you look at them every day, and to remember that shelves can be redone as often as you want. 

how to style open floating shelves

Find more home decor ideas and more ideas on styling open shelves.

You can also find me on Amazon here,  LTK  here, and Etsy here

This post contains affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission.