If you’re a woman, and possibly a man as well, a house is where you hang your apron. It is where you eat meals and sleep and make decisions. It is where you spend your time.

Most of all it’s where you will never be turned away.

I don’t live in a fancy house. I rent a home and it’s not at all fancy. So you won’t see these dressed to the nines posts from me that’s all glitter and gold.

I’m not one of those bloggers. And I doubt I would be even if I had the money. Just not me I guess.

Humble Beginnings:

I come from very humble beginnings. We were poor. We didn’t have a car.

My grandmother and great-grandmother and I walked to the grocery store in town and walked back home. Seemed like the paper sacks got heavier with every step.

But we had one hell of a garden. We ate well. Blackberry cobblers. Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and onions and potatoes. My favorite meal that I still look back fondly on was pinto beans, fried potatoes, corned bread, and iced tea.

We didn’t go to restaurants. Not that there were more than a couple in that small town to go to anyway.

I was on my own at an early age.

I’ve Made Mistakes:

I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’ve made lots of mistakes. The greatest tragedy is that I got married three times.

Try as I might, I never did get it right. I don’t have the desire to try anymore. I just want my peace and my dogs and my little blue house.

If I had my life to do over again, I’d have become of two things. I’d either major in library science instead of journalism. Or I’d have become a nature photographer.

Since I have Asperger’s and don’t like to be around people, I would probably have headed for the hills and become a nature photographer.

No Fancy Houses Here:

In terms of this blog, if you want to find grandeur and read about fancy houses, I’m sorry, you’re in the wrong place.

I’ve lived in fancy houses. And those fancy houses, I can promise you, don’t make you happy. Modest ones don’t either. Houses are simply where you hang your apron.

I suppose you could say in some ways that I’ve been to hell and back. The kind of hell that being married and miserable brings.

Maybe it’s just the feeling of being trapped, and you either chew off your foot or die trying.

I can’t blame a whole bunch of other people. It is what it is. Other women have done the same thing and lived to tell the tale, just as I have.

Those I Love:

I have two daughters who I love dearly. And two precious grandchildren. I started young and didn’t know beans about mothering. I also wasn’t blessed with one of my own to teach me.

And I love the spoiled and sometimes ornery pupsters. Sometimes they’re as silly and aggravating as the day is long. But they’re the best companions a woman could have just the same.

I don’t go to stores and buy new things to show you. But I will admit I did once. I think I was mostly trying to fill the emptiness I felt within.

Shiny Objects:

But I sold the bulk of those shiny things before I moved here. Because I needed the money to relocate more. I don’t miss them.

What is important has a beating heart. No matter how hard you try, you can’t breathe life into “things.”

Please understand. I don’t begrudge people their beautiful and expensive things. Because I once had them too. In the end, I was more than happy to trade them in on another life.

A new lease on life.

What I Have Learned:

That old saying is true. Money can’t buy you love. Or loyalty or happiness.

There is nothing worse than to be in the room with the person you married and feel more lonely than you ever have in your life.

Learning that did make me feel humble. I felt that I’d failed. And that thought trailed me for a while. Still bothers me sometimes that I just couldn’t get it right.

I have regrets. Who doesn’t?

But home is where you hang your apron. Never forget that. So create a home that you love.

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  1. Hi Brenda! I just found your blog this morning via a recipe posted on a low-carb website. I love your cozy house, your pupsters and your attitude. <3 I too went through a divorce, 3 1/2 years ago, downscaled from a 3200 sq ft home to a 900 sq foot apartment with a little patio that I enjoy so much! I was finally able to decorate in a style that fits my personality and feels like home. Our surroundings, furnishings, plants, loved ones, atmosphere affect us so much! I will be reading here often. OH and have you checked into plans with Obamacare. My COBRA insurance runs out in August and I will need to do that unless I can find a job that fits into the lifestyle I am cobbling together before then. Have a beautiful day!! Susan

  2. It is clear that your words are truly heartfelt–and I "get it."
    I am happier single. Confident. Peaceful. I earn my money and spend it how I wish or how it needs to be spent what with a roof over our heads and food in the pantry. Raised my son alone. It was better that way, believe me. He just graduated Phi Beta Kappa, will get his Masters in June 2014, and will go on to Law school. Entertaining for me, aside from cooking for close family, is a bag of catnip and some new toy mice! In fact, I stopped at the pet store today for a few dollars worth of supplies. Party at my place tonight. Me and my furry ones.

    Peace reigns in my modest yet cozy home and may it always reign in yours.

    1. You must be very proud. Of your boy. And of doing it on your own. Congrats to him on his Masters degree! Yes, peace reigns in my home. Finally. Don't know what took me so long. Fear I guess.

  3. Laurel, every time I think of you I think of that house in the photo on your sidebar. If I could pick any house I wanted, I think it would be yours. There's just something about it that is so appealing. If I'm ever in a boat and can't see land for miles and miles, you'd be one of the women I'd want in there with me to pass the time.

  4. Hi Brenda. First off, that photo of the white-and-pink Rose of Sharon is so lovely. When I was younger and something of a gardening snob, I didn't want any Rose of Sharon bushes. Rose of Sharon seemed like it belonged in the yards of old ladies. Now that I am in my late 50s, and closer to being an old lady, I love Rose of Sharon bushes. I have a half dozen or so, in several colors. I love the white with the pink throat the best because the flowers really stand out against the green leaves. Rose of Sharon bushes seem really dense and tough, but they have a lot of delicate beauty, as your photo shows.

    1. Mine are all just one color on each bush. Maybe someone planted two different colors very close together in your yard, making it seem like one plant with two colors. Here in KY, people plant a pink and a white dogwood together, or a pink and a white crape myrtle, to make it look like one plant with two colors.

  5. Brenda, my friend, you know that I am so with you on all of this. I'm glad that you are back on blogger. I could almost feel the stress melt away from your body after you returned. No more of that constant worry of all the latest bells and whistles (and paying for them). I love you and your blog just the way you are. xo Laura

    1. I admit I am much more relaxed and can therefore have more time to devote to projects and what I want to add to my blog. The technical stuff plus trying to blog was overwhelming to me.

    1. Thank you! I think I left my spot and was never really comfortable until I came back and got in that spot again. I'm comfy here.

      And by the way, your blog is looking wonderful.

  6. As Gloria Steinem said once, A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. While I don't agree with everything she said, that really fits into my philosophy.

    I am once divorced and twice married, but I will always be a complete whole self.

    I realize that many women think they are not complete without a husband. In reality, they have to think of themselves as a complete whole person, not just half a couple.

    Otherwise, it will perpetuate the pattern of not being content with just themselves. You can be be alone, but not lonely. I was happy being single, 17 years, and planned to never marry. Then I met my present husband. Either way, I plan to stay "whole".

    Best wishes to you. You sound peaceful with yourself.

    1. Gloria Steinem, a person the young women probably don't even remember, was one smart cookie. She was battling for women at a time when few had the nerve. That was a great quote, and just how I feel.

      You can be happy by yourself. I never felt more lonely than sitting across the table from a man I couldn't think of a single word to say to. Living alone, I don't feel lonely any more.

  7. This post is one of the most meaningful i have come across in a long time… including the comments. You just said in one post what "Simple Abundance" took 365 days to say… That life isn't in things, it is in people, and giving thanks for what you've got, and being as contented as you can be with your station in life. Self-acceptance and peace is a huge blessing, I'm so glad I found you and your blog! It is a cozy and heart-warming place on the internet!

    1. Monica, that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said/written to me. I don't claim to have all the answers. Just the answers for me. I welcome you to my blog.

    1. Some years ago, I lost hope. I listened when someone who was supposed to love me told me I couldn't make it alone. That I'd have to have a man take care of me. I listened when he told me I was unlovable. I listened when he shattered what dreams I had left. And then I put on my big girl panties, got the hell out of there, and found hope waiting for me. I won't say it's easy, cause it's not. But the only way we can find hope is through our own individual efforts. One listens because emotionally you get beaten down. I believed him because he was so smart and was an M.D. and had so much schooling. I didn't realize that in terms of emotional development, all that schooling means absolutely nothing.

  8. Amen, Sister! I know right now I am not living up to my career potential as some have thought I should. But I am happier now than I have been in a very long time. I love your little blue house. Maybe you need to get a cat…I'm surprised one has not found you!

    1. I would have a cat if it weren't for the fact that these pupsters would surely torment it. That's the only thing that made me feel better when he got the cats. I knew the dogs wouldn't be chasing poor old Clyde anymore.

      Doesn't matter what your career potential is. Some people reach their "career potential" and are miserable. If you like what you're doing, then that's all that's important. Don't let anyone tell you different.

  9. Miz Brenda- I think this is one of the best posts you have ever written. You are right there-here and now-realer than real and that is what makes a good blogger. I can feel you pain- I have felt your pain. We are kindred souls of a sort and yet different in subtle ways. Bless you- you are a survivor. xo Diana

  10. I live in a small house and don't have fancy things either. Those things aren't important to me. What is: my family and my cats. I thank God for my wonderful husband, especially after knowing what you went through!

    1. Melanie, I think you picked a winner. Don't know how many of them are out there. I never seemed to find one. Maybe I was looking in all the wrong places. I'm happy you have a solid and enduring marriage.

  11. Brenda you and I have much in common. I married 3 times and never go it right and I just give up. I love living in my little duplex now with my sweet Charlie Kitty. I don't have fancy things and I don't need nor want them. Time with my daughters, my great son in law and my adorable Grandson make my life the best. I am blessed to have a great Mom still here on earth and I gain much strength from her holding on to her life! I once tried to fill my life with 'things' but now it's full of family, friends and their love.

  12. Honey if I had a dollar for all the hurt and harm I've endured from a man I'd be a rich woman today! Instead, I'm a poor woman who lives simply and love wisely I finally made it…I have my cat, and two woofies and I'm a happy woman with a rewarding fulfilled live!

    1. You and me both! I feel much more fulfilled without a man in my life than I ever did with one in it. Took me three tries to figure that out. But better late than never!

  13. Brenda, I read LOTS of blogs each day, but yours is the one I miss the most when you haven't posted. There's just something so warm and cozy, so real and welcoming that always brings me back. I look at all the "perfectly" decorated homes and think they're nice, but the one that I'd most like to sit and visit in is yours. We are looking to downsize in the near future and I'm looking forward to it. I hope that I'll be able to make our new home really "ours" and create the same feel you've created in your home!

  14. Not all of us have big beautiful homes, or money to buy things all the time. My home is where my husband, dog, and memories are. I found out real quick that if you don't have your health….new dishes really do not matter. I still love pretty things….but now, I can look and enjoy and not always have and enjoy. Your yard will be beautiful again….when you are able. Something to look forward to!

    1. You're so right. I like pretty things, but I don't love them anymore. They didn't love me back. They were a pain in my butt because I constantly had to dust around them and find space for them. I like a pretty home with inexpensive trinkets in it. Things that didn't send me to the poor house, as they use to say in my youth. There are lots of things to look forward to. And not all of them even cost money!

    1. I find life good without a man in it. I know a lot of women have wonderful marriages and partners and I am truly happy for them. But my happiness would not include that again. I have learned to live modestly, frugally, and I know how much money is in the bank. I know what's what because now I'm in charge. Life is good.

  15. I am a lot like you Brenda, I too live alone in a house with 2 doggies. You are lucky to have a Judy in your life. I have no one but me now since January. Divorce was not the culprit that took my husband, it was cancer. There is not a day goes by that I do not tear up over the loss. Material things do not bring happiness when there is no one to share it all with. I would give it all up in a heartbeat to be able to turn back the clock, but I know that is impossible, so I take one day at a time. Every day grief puts on a new face. Some days are better than others. When I think I will be okay then something reminds me of the hole in my heart, and my loss. I find staying busy helps me, but then there is now double the work on my shoulders so I have no choice in the matter. It takes me 2 days to mow the yard. It use to take my husband 3 hours to do the same job. I also have 2 grown daughters in their 30's, busy women with full-time jobs and homes of their own to care for. I have a grandson who is almost 18 months old. There are no men in their lives to help carry their burdens. My oldest is now divorced 2 times, both husbands cheated on her. It is hard to find good, faithful men anymore. A lot of single woman find it more stress-free to remain alone. I always said I wouldn't marry again. I don't need the grief and I sure don't want to watch another man die. Hang in there, you are slowly getting to where God wants you to be. Everyday can be and is a blessing.
    (((HUGS))) Susanne 🙂

    1. Amen about the stress, or lack thereof, in ones life. I have struggles. I stress about paying the bills. But I no longer have to stress about the hour a man is going to walk through the door and I don't know if he's going to be sober or drunk or mean. I think there are just far too many men (and of course women as well) who want to have it all. Mine lied to my face the entirety of our marriage. I was blindsided by that. I was driving a car and he was sitting in the passenger seat and he just said it like he was talking about what to watch on TV that night. Then I learned true fear. I wasn't smart enough before that. But when you know what they're capable of, when they can lie without batting an eye, you'd better be watching your back. I'm sorry, Susanne, for your grief and your daily struggles. Wish you lived close and we'd help one another.

  16. I think you're a very wise woman. You've had a lot of trying experiences in your life which makes you strong and wise. You're right that money can't buy you happiness. Tell that to someone who is clinically depressed. All the money in the world won't make a difference! And….sometimes, our pets are our best companions. They don't ask for anything in return. Just our company. Isn't that nice? I hope you continue to "find your way" in your new life in your sweet little blue house.

    1. I've heard people say: You can be happy if you choose to be. Well, they haven't met up with the monster called clinical depression. But there are ways to fight it, and that's with help and medication and putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. I'm soldiering onward. I thank you for being my faithful and valued friend, Kelly.

  17. Brenda, I too am divorced (twice). Never again. My heart belongs to my 3 grown sons, daughter-in-laws, and grandsons along with my parents and siblings. Some people are just not meant to have a marriage. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love working in my yard, just getting into photography, and visiting with friends and family. I am getting more involved with my church which is giving me a new found joy. Enjoy your life and keep writing and photographing. I love your blog and check in daily.

    Love you!

    1. I agree with you. It isn't that we haven't met out "soul mate." We just flat don't want to be in a relationship or be married. I like living alone. I like the quiet. No loud ball games on TV & shouting over them. My trust, living with someone in that capacity, is just gone. As in not coming back. I am happy with my dogs and my blog and my readers and blog friends. I am content in a way I haven't been in a very long time. You don't HAVE to be with a man to be complete, I write with a more than a hint of sarcasm.

  18. Once again, you've written a beautiful and touching post, sharing your life and heart with us. I wanted to share something with some other followers you might have that maybe have not had the chance to talk to you: Brenda has the sweetest voice, it can melt butter. I too wish I could go to the Cozy Little House for coffee and meander over life with you.

    I too cannot imagine life without animals, it just would not be fun. Although we are way down in our numbers: Went from 6 cats to 2; 4 dogs to 3, really 2 1/2, our newly rescued lab keeps jumping the fence and walking into peoples houses and spending the night! What a pistol. Chickens are gone, too. And one big Palomino is in retirement now here at home.

    1. Animals never judge, never criticize, never do anything but look at you with loyal loving eyes. I don't think I'd much want a life without pets. The pupsters are, right now, on either side of me.

  19. I found you a few days ago on a pinterest search for country homes and I have been reading you ever since. ( I even went back a long ways) This post today is beautiful and describes so much how I feel. I especially like this : "What is important has a beating heart. No matter how hard you try, you can't breathe life into "things." Thank you for a great post today!

  20. The important part is "built with cash." Bottom line. No mortgage. And the fact that you're going to share it is even better. Families use to live together, different generations. I think things would be better if we still did that more. Children would never lack for love with so many around them.

  21. I enjoy your blog so much. I have a huge house my father-in-law built that is now ours since they past. It is not fancy. It was built with cash and never has had a mortgage. It needs tons of work and love. We are "dividing" it in half for my step daughter and her husband to make it more manageable. I too, have had all the fancy stuff, I don't miss it one bit!

    I thank God everyday for my wonderful husband who loves me more than life itself, and truly wish all of us could experience that kind of love.

    I try to live simply and be thankful for what I have. My house would be cleaner without pets, but what they give in return makes up for that ten fold! So I'll stay in my big, not done house with the kids and the pets, and just be happy. I wish the same for you too.

  22. I think I finally have the right shoes on. Part of it was coming back to Blogger. To simplicity. Not trying to be someone I'm not. I love your house by the sea. I love every nook and cranny of your collected and colorful eye candy.

  23. We live in a small house, pay cash for everything and still have way too much stuff. We have learned that living simply has brought us contentment and satisfaction.

    We have friends in BIG houses with BIG lives who are now discovering they have everything, but nothing. And after many years of marriage, they are divorcing and lost.

    You seem happier today than when I first began following you – like you finally have shoes that fit and you can walk in them.

  24. Brenda, you may not live in a fancy house anymore but you live in a house that hundreds of people from all across the world want to visit daily. Isn't that right?

    We find the best kind of beauty there–the cozy, comfortable, colorful kind. We find a hostess who shares everything she has and is. And we find a hostess who is determined and persevering, who sometimes does feel low when circumstances pile on her but who lifts her chin, grabs her camera, goes online to look for new bloggers to help along the way, and takes care of two live, fascinating, loving little bodies.

    I think you are living an authentic life.

    1. I sure like the idea of an authentic life. For me, if I don't share it all, I feel stifled. Like I'm having to keep a secret and thus I have to watch my words so I don't let it out. With me, what you see is really what you get.

  25. How true your words are that you are contended and at peace with the world. You are more than any other time I've known you during the last few years. You have so many faithful followers and they love you for who you are – not what you have. You have so much talent in your writing and photos that so many of us will never have. So, enjoy it and those precious babies and your little blue house.


    1. I know you're going through a lot right now. And it's scary. The pupsters miss you. But when you walk in that door, it's pure love I see when they jump in your arms.

  26. Brenda…
    How I enjoy reading your 'down to earth' posts. You are not for show or about bragging. Your real story is refreshing. I love humble people more than anything. I wish you were able to move about more like you did before your fall. But how your are now – seems like a reflective and real person. We do become wiser after many mistakes – which we all have. I love your little blue house – a very cozy house indeed. Enjoy your day, friend!

    1. Holly, I love your "down to earth" style of decorating. Was just over at your blog last night and I always think: Why didn't I think of that? You have a real talent.

  27. God has brought you to this place..he knows what is best for us and he walks beside us all every day and keeps us safe..never fear Brenda for he will always be near..what you are feeling when you feel at peace is the holy spirit inside of you…You are one lucky woman!Please NEVER doubt that..and LOVE is all we ever need…Love you Brenda! Carol

  28. Brenda, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about you. I know you've come a long way. I sure hope you're happy and somewhat contented in your little blue house.. I'm sorry that you can't get out and dig in "Mother earth" like you used to. I pray you'll be able to keep your insurance..
    Even though I have my son and daughter living with me, I'm not contented. I am blessed to have my home and my grown "kids", but life isn't like it used to be. Our two kitties do give us a lot of laughs, but I've had to curtail some of the decorating that so things don't get broken and plants don't get eaten. So, my home is not really all mine.
    I really enjoy seeing the pictures that you take of your yard, your yard birds, and Charlie and Abi.. I'm glad you splurged on your chair. That really wasn't splurging though. You really got a good deal.
    As for the men in your life, when personalities don't mesh, and you have conflicts it is not one person's fault.. It takes two to make a marriage work. Don't look back.
    I wish you only good times, good health, prosperity and much happiness in the future.
    Hugs, Charlotte in Virginia

    1. I've learned that when we can no longer do things, we create a different path to it. If I can't dig in the ground, I will dig in a pot. If I can't walk through big stores, I'll sit in the comfort of my home and order it online. Adjustments are sometimes just a necessary part of life.

    2. As my Mom used to say, "There's always a way". I'm really glad that you have the mind set that you do. You're doing great my friend. It's a good thing if we can be flexible when we have adversities.

  29. What a heartfelt post Brenda. I totally agree about it being the things with a beating heart that mean the most. We have a modest home. Nothing fancy. We are lucky we bought before the housing market went crazy 15 years ago. We are also blessed to have land to garden and explore. We both teach, and spend the summers home with the kids, so we stretch our pay to do this. It's not easy, but I know that there are many who have less, who don't have a constant or job security, so we don't complain. Besides, if it was that bad, we would take on any summer work we could. There is something to be said for a place to hang your apron. That place that makes us feel comforted, safe, and loved. I love your words, I love the images that accompany them, and I thank you for your honesty.

    1. Honesty is really all I know. I never was good at trying to be someone I'm not. I'm pretty transparent. And if that's okay with all of you, then I'll stay that way.

  30. What a wonderful song, I too believe that wherever we live, humble or grand home, PEACE and the sense of belonging should always be there. Thanks for sharing this Brenda!

  31. Dear Brenda…What an honest post. I have followed you too and have noticed the more peaceful person you have become. I hope that things continue well for you and maybe get even better…"keep looking up" (a verse from the Bible)….. as my husband would say.
    Have a nice day, Balisha

    1. I know you have gone through a terrible loss. Yet here you are. Still joining in the conversation, still being a part of us. I commend you for your strength and fortitude.

      I may be poor, probably lose the health insurance I just got through Insure OK this month. Because at the end of the year it goes away. But for now, and the next months, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I think if I really wanted to, I could just take a few steps and I would be entirely outside the tunnel. Yet it creates a sort of safe shady spot…

  32. Once again, I see my life reflected in your words! I was very unhappy married also, but part of that was also my fault…that I always knew, but I chose to ignore the truth, untill it was too late. I also LOVE my Bella Schnauzer just about more than anything!!!!She and I can take on anything!!! when I got divorced, I told my husband, that I wanted her more than anything else, and luckily he knew she belonged with me!!!!! Keep writing…keep gardening…keep going…I HAVE to believe our lives will be all we want them to be one day…

    1. I think my life has finally come to the place where I want it to be. I feel a peace I've never felt before. I like living alone with the pupsters. I don't really have room in my life or my heart for a "relationship." I am doing what makes me happiest. Writing, being outside with my camera. I think I have finally found the recipe for happiness. And, as they say, in my own back yard.

  33. I completely agree Brenda. All the gadgets in the world won't make you happy. It is that wet nose and wagging tail that warms my heart.

    Having taken this journey with you the past couple of years I am proud of you for being where you are now. You seem more content and happier. Move forward, never look back or you could trip over something.

    I miss your cats too!


    1. It still tears me up to see photos of the cats. I keep wondering how long that will last. I hope they're okay, that they're content being where they are. That's all I know to do.

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