cff Simple and Serene Living

Hey there!

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.
The blog


Friday, August 11, 2023

 I have come to realize that I need a mental health break. 

Most of my adult life has been filled with stress and I know that I need to finally take some time for myself and try to find some serenity.


When we are young it feels like life will go on forever, but as we get older we realize how quickly it has passed.

With that in mind, I am going to take some time for myself.

I need to stop and smell the roses.

metal basket of roses

Suddenly all of the things I thought were so important just don't seem that important any longer. 

My Etsy shop has been put on an extended vacation and I am cutting down on my blog posts. 

I want to look at the wonderful photos on Instagram without feeling like I need to compete.

I want to play Rummikub with new friends on Thursday night and just laugh. 

I want to sit in my chair and spend hours reading great books. 

Most of all I want to spend more time with my precious family.

I realize that I need to

just be
You all are my precious friends and I appreciate your support so much.


Friday, August 4, 2023

This is a repost of a post I wrote two years ago. 

It has been updated to reflect any changes I have made in my life.


My Story

If you have read my blog for a while you know that I am a former counselor, but what you may not know is that I was a stay-at-home mom for much of my adult life. 

Like many women, I chose to devote my time to raising my children. 

It was what I had always wanted to do and I don't regret a moment of that, but what I didn't know is what would happen to me when my husband became seriously mentally ill and how it would eventually affect me.

woman studying

In my mid-forties, I went back to school completed my last two years of college, and did three years of graduate school in counseling psychology. 

I worked for several years, but I found out it wasn't enough. When I reached the age of 62 I took social security because I had crippling knee pain. I had both of my knees replaced but found that ageism is alive and well and I was unemployable. 

Here is what I discovered about Social Security and why I was left living in poverty. 

How Social Security Is Determined

Social Security is based on your lifetime earnings. 

Your actual earnings are adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. 

Then Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.

woman holding cash

This is where the problem arises for women who spent much of their adult lives being caretakers for their children and then often of their elderly parents. 

Being Out Of The Workforce

Being a caregiver is not seen as work by our government. Stay-at-home caregivers are basically free labor. (The government loves that. Free labor means no Social Security.)

For example, if a woman spends 25 years of her life working in her home, where she is unpaid, those years are indexed as zero income. They are then averaged with the ten years she worked outside the home. 

woman washing window

For women, like myself, who are no longer in a stable marriage, those years of taking care of a family leave them living in poverty. 

Women should not have to sit around like the grim reaper, waiting for ex-husbands to die in order to have enough money to survive.

Social Security Raises

The big talk last year was about the big increase that is expected for Social Security in 2022. They estimated 6%. Here is what that means. For someone who is making $2500 a year in Social Security that raise means an extra $150. For a woman who makes $800 a year in Social Security that raise is $48.

Out of that raise, there is usually an increase in Medicare, and if you are fortunate enough to have gotten into senior subsidized housing (of which there is an extreme shortage and long waitlists) 30% of that raise will go to the government as an increase in your rent. 

There are approximately 30 million women over the age of 60 in this country and approximately 17.3% of them are living in poverty. That means that over 5 million older women in this country are living in poverty.

fresh vegetables

These women have to make decisions on whether to eat or pay for their medications.

As you can see it is not a small problem and it is one that needs to be addressed. We need Social Security reform.

I try to do my part by making phone calls to government officials, but I am just one person.

My Continuing Story 

I am fortunate to have received a small inheritance from my mother which gives me a little cushion for emergencies, but every day is a worry. 

Will my twelve-year-old car with 134,000 miles on it break down? 

It did break down this year and cost 3100 dollars to repair. 

How long will that money last? My family is long-lived and I will need to stretch it out. 

coins spilling out of a jar

In the past, I have supplemented my income by selling online, but I have found I no longer have the energy to keep that up the way I was doing.

I am not alone. There are millions of us. If you know an older woman who is struggling I hope that you will reach out a helping hand to them. 

As I seem to have more time on my hands these days I intend to start advocating for reform for women and Social Security. Not sure how much effect I will have, but I will keep you informed.

women retiring poor in america


Friday, July 21, 2023

Yesterday morning I stepped outside and was transported back to early southern mornings when I was a child.

Suddenly I was ten years old again and could feel my grandparents' home around me.

summer in the country

It was eighty degrees and already just a wee bit sultry.

The birds were singing and the cicadas were waking up.

I felt like nature was serenading me.

At the back of my mind, I could hear my grandmother's voice telling me to come inside where there were fresh pastries from the local bakery waiting for me. 

Is it possible to carry the memory of that taste so many years later?


A few weeks ago Tessa and I were snuggled on the couch where she was reading to me. 

Don't you love how roles get reversed as children grow up?

When we heard a tapping and looked over at the window next to us we saw a rather large hummingbird watching us. 

It persisted for the longest time, and oh how I could feel Katy's presence letting us know she was watching us from heaven. 

Reading to Cary's children was always such a special time for her.

reading and tea

Speaking of reading, I have been doing a lot of it lately.

Last week I read two books by Kristen Hannah: The Four Winds and Firefly Lane.

I enjoyed them so much that I now have three more of her books in my to-be-read stack.

I also read The Porcelain Moon by critically acclaimed author Janie Chang.

The Porcelain Moon

France, 1918. In the final days of the First World War, a young Chinese woman, Pauline Deng, runs away from her uncle’s home in Paris to evade a marriage being arranged for her in Shanghai. To prevent the union, she needs the help of her cousin Theo, who is working as a translator for the Chinese Labour Corps in the French countryside. In the town of Noyelles-sur-Mer, Camille Roussel is planning her escape from an abusive marriage, and to end a love affair that can no longer continue. When Camille offers Pauline a room for her stay, the two women become friends. But it’s not long before Pauline uncovers a perilous secret that Camille has been hiding from her. As their dangerous situation escalates, the two women are forced to make a terrible decision that will bind them together for the rest of their lives.

Summer continues to roll on here in the sultry south and as the afternoons continue to be in the nineties I think I will make an effort to get out and enjoy the early mornings more often.

A good book and a rocking chair seem to be a pretty perfect combination.

If you are looking for some instant art for your home you might want to hop over to my Etsy shop to check out beautiful prints from the past.

The post contains affiliate links.


Friday, July 7, 2023

Summer is here and I thought I would share some of my favorite summer Amazon finds.

I was seriously sick of losing my phone when I don't have pockets. I found this crossbody phone sleeve, which I use at home and on the go. (no more looking around the house for a lost phone)

This pretty floral pattern was perfect for me, but there are other patterns and solids to choose from.

crossbody phone sleeve

Yes, I shared these "perfect for summer" slip-on sneakers once before, but I am loving them so much that I thought they were worth another share.

I am already picking out another color for fall.

roxy slip on sneakers

I have been searching for a new tinted moisturizer forever but wasn't sure about matching my skintone.

Then I found this and it checks all of the boxes.

Formulated as an all-in-one sunscreen and foundation that provides sheer color coverage, minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and blends naturally to match every skin tone.

I could not be happier.

Drmtology universal tinted moisturizer

My sensitive skin loves everything by CeraVe and now I have found this sunscreen. Yay me and yay you.

Need a quick refresh of your hair when you don't have time for a regular shampoo?

I found the perfect solution.

olaplex dry shampoo

Let's face it. We are all aging and our hair is aging right along with us. 

It can also mean our hair may be thinning.

Not sure about you, but I never had a thick mane of hair to begin with.

So happy to find this line of anti-aging hair products.

alterna anti aging mousse

Don't forget to stay hydrated. Not sure about where you are, but it is really hot in my neck of the woods.

iron flask water bottle

I have been thinking about a new hobby and photography keeps jumping to the front of my mind. 

Summer is a great time to get out and take photos.

I'm kind of tired of relying on my phone and would love to have a camera. 

This popular camera has been added to my wish list. 

canon camera

Whew, all that shopping has worn me out.

Pull up a rocking chair on the front porch, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and settle in for a good read.

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

Book: The Four Winds

Have a great weekend.

This post contains affiliate links.


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Well, it was just one of those days, just one of those crazy days.

It was Monday and it was irritating and frustrating, to say the least.


At 7:00 am my phone pinged with a text message.

My neurologist's office said my July appointment, which was made 6 months ago, was canceled due to a change in schedule. 

If I wanted to reschedule I could call their number, and probably sit on hold for 30 minutes, to make a new appointment. 

vintage phone

I remember when they used to call you to apologize for the inconvenience and while you were on the phone they would schedule a new appointment for you. 

Not letting that ruin my day I jumped (there was no actual jumping involved) in the shower and then put on my new cute skirt in a bag skirt.

I needed to open an estate bank account for Katy and now that I was finally appointed administrator for her probate I was able to do that.

I would have been able to do that, but the branch of her bank which is just around the corner from me was temporarily closed. 

closed sign

Now what?

I decided to drive over to my bank and see what they could do. 

After I explained what had happened they said they could do it. I just needed to get the release of funds from Katy's bank. Trying not to cry I just got back in my car and left.

I seriously felt like I needed a break from all of this so I decided to drive to the shopping center and do some window shopping. 

road closed ahead

Halfway there the road was closed with no warning and I had to turn around. 

At that point I had had enough and decided to go home.

Oh wait, there's a Target.

Target has ice cream. I love ice cream.

Finally, something went right and besides I could get started again on Tuesday.

Don't even ask me about Tuesday.

I would love for you to check out my Etsy shop where I sell vintage and antique finds along with digital downloads of beautiful antique artwork.

This post contains affiliate links


Friday, June 23, 2023

I am cautious about trying not to fall because of my osteoporosis, but a couple of weeks ago I found that although the most common, falls are not the only type of home accident.


Two weeks ago I had a crazy accident.

I was cleaning and dropped something on the other side of my toilet.

Instead of just leaning over to pick it up I sat down on the toilet seat lid and that is when the craziness was.

I didn't realize the seat was loose and when I leaned over it slipped, threw me off, and slammed my back ribcage into the toilet paper holder.

Needless to say, it was very painful and produced a large bruise, but over the next few days, it was feeling much better.

Five days later I was back to riding the stationary bike and feeling great.

However, when I went to get up from my chair I heard a pop, the area that I had hit completely seized up, and I was unable to move. 

When realized I was not going to be able to get up I called for an ambulance.

Long story short no ribs were cracked or broken, but the ER doctor said it was a muscle or tendon injury and would take a while to heal.


The best part was that I got to spend a couple of days at Cary's and be pampered.

Things are gradually getting back to normal but I am trying not to overdo it. 

A bit hard when you live by yourself. 

For now, I am ignoring the fact that I need to vacuum. 

I got out yesterday, dropped off a package at UPS, and did my grocery shopping. 

Home is the most common place for an accident to happen. 

Here are some ways to help prevent accidents at home.

I would love for you to check out my Etsy shop where I sell vintage and antique finds along with digital downloads of beautiful antique artwork.