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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She attended journalism school where she majored in professional writing. She loves to decorate, garden, read and spend time with her Yorkies.

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Apartment Tour: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Apartment Tour: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lucas is a graphic designer in Buenos Aires. This is his tiny apartment. It is 495 square feet.

He describes his style as "a bit of modern with Scandinavian and vintage elements, but above everything it's colorful and playful. I like to mix things I like and feel that represent me."

After living in a much bigger place (where he never felt at ease), Lucas finally found his home a year ago in this one bedroom apartment over an avenue in the Vicente Lopez neighborhood.

The furniture that seemed to be floating all over his old apartment now felt at home in this much cozier place. 

He has a collection of snow globes, a million pencils that he uses for his illustrations, framed posters and a lot of candles (that make the apartment smell great all-year-round). 

Lucas works as a graphic designer for a multinational company and travels very often. So, his home is filled with playful travel souvenirs that he displays all over his house.

His love for bright colors and strong graphics is reflected in his small home, as well.

He decided to theme each room after one color, for a more cohesive feel.

As you can see, Lucas loves plants. He has them throughout his apartment and here on the patio.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Lucas' home in Buenos Aires.

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Cozy Little House
Autism: Is It A Family Thing?

Autism: Is It A Family Thing?

It's been a week since I told you about my sisters. And some of you are probably wondering if there's been any further contact. 

I haven't learned any more about the sister with MS. And there has been no communication with her older sister. 

But there has been more information from the distant cousin.

The younger sister has said that she is unsure if her older sister would even understand what is going on. She conveyed that she is very child-like.

I'm surmising several things from that statement. And I am reluctant, due to this information, to do more at this time.

To give you a little family history...

My maternal grandmother had Scarlet Fever as a child and was also very child-like. I was led to believe it was due to the illness. But I'm not so sure of that being the only cause.

Many of you already know these things; some of you will not. So I will reiterate. 

The three times I was in my mother's presence, I could see that she was very much like my grandmother. 

She was very child-like too.

Now I'm told that the sister is very child-like. So this makes me even more certain that something in the genetics of this family is involved. 

I'm thinking perhaps a more severe form of autism could be at play here. For I doubt very seriously that three separate generations of women could have these same traits and it be coincidental.  

This from the CDC (Center For Disease Control & Prevention):
"Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Scientists do not know yet exactly what causes these differences for most people with ASD. 

"However, some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. There are multiple causes of ASD, although most are not yet known.

"There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.

"The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
"A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder."


If any of you are trained in this field, or have a relative such as I've described, I'd appreciate any information you could share.

As you can surmise, this situation requires some delicacy.

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Cozy Little House
Bean Soup & Icy Weather

Bean Soup & Icy Weather

Yesterday morning I started some bean and ham soup in my crock pot. I picked up one of those packets that have all kinds of beans in them. Even had a little packet of Cajun seasoning.

I had it for supper. But it was a little spicy for me. 

I called Charlie and Linda next door and asked if they wanted any. So he came over and picked up the rest of it. Maybe their tummies aren't as sensitive.

It's been raining on and off all night. As you can see above, my green gazebo is a bit under the eaves of my apartment. So I can walk outside or let the dogs out and they don't immediately get wet.

It's easy to move the gazebo a little by inching each leg a bit. 

I look forward to sitting under this gazebo come springtime. So hope it makes it through the winter!

Now the rain has turned to ice. 

I woke up this morning and it was so hot in here. I got up and saw that it was in the eighties on the electronic thermostat. 

I tried to adjust it, but it wouldn't go off. I turned off the fan. I turned off the thermostat. Nothing worked and it just kept running. 

I could see dollar signs for electricity in my brain. 

I called Charlie next door. He said to go to the breaker and see if "heater" was listed. I did and it was. So I turned off the breaker. Don't know why that didn't occur to me. But if I flip it back on, same thing happens.

Luckily I have a little black Duraflame heater. So I got it out. It works by remote control. I will use that if I need to. I bought it a year of so ago after going quite awhile without heat. I didn't want to be in that position again.

I called management. Lines were down and it took me awhile to get through. So I'm in line to get someone out to work on it. 

I'm comfortable, so I'm in no hurry. However I was hoping to get some painting done in the bathroom. But I'm not going to start with that and then have to deal with someone coming to the door. 

So I guess I'll wait. I have a whole week before the maintenance guy Kenny will come over on his day off to install the new vanity. 

Since learning about what I'm planning, the couple next door are considering redoing their bathroom too. 

Here is today's photo of the pupsters. Notice Abi all but salutes when I point a camera at her. I think she was an actress in a former life!

So I'll be inside with Law & Order SVU reruns on in the background as I go about my day. Waiting for someone to come work on the thermostat.

You know I was reading yesterday that more and more people are leaving the housing market and going into the rental market. 

There are of course pros and cons to either. But if you're a woman my age living alone, renting just seems to be the better solution. Especially if you don't have a home paid off.

I fix up this place as I please. The manager here knows that. She said it seems a lot of people living here do what they want. 

I think that's because it's about 75% seniors here, and many live here more than 20 years. So they plant trees, and treat their homes more like they were home owners. I'm no different.

It doesn't matter if you can't own your home. You can create a wonderful home no matter where you live. 

After watching me decorate and redecorate and find solutions for thrifty fixes, I hope everyone sees that it is possible to love where you live. 

It's important to live in the now. If you have a landlord who is more picky, however, I can understand your frustration. But then, you can always repaint if you decide to paint your walls another color. Paint is a pretty cheap solution.

If you move out, you can put things back to how they were if it's an easy fix.

I will probably live here a long time. So I'm going to make it the home I want, in the ways that I can. 
So don't settle for living in a place you hate while you look toward the future to live better. Tomorrow is not a given. 

You need to feel good about your home. So if you have questions on how you might solve a rental or decorating problem, email me and I'll try to help.

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Cozy Little House
Pondering Spring Gardens

Pondering Spring Gardens

I love to turn on the tiny lights in the bedroom and read for hours, until I get sleepy.

Last night I started a book by Greg Iles that Harper Collins sent last week. I don't believe I've read his books before. 

But once I started, I read about 200 pages out of 704. When I picked it up to read, I thought to myself: Well, this one is going to take me awhile.

And: Great, this looks like the last book of a series.

But I was engrossed from the get-go. So I don't think it will take very long to read it at all.  

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author

The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.

Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making--one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. 

With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited.


I was quickly immersed in the plot, which I promise you doesn't drag along. But instead moves at great speed. So that you don't want to put it down.

Just one more chapter, I'd keep telling myself.

Have any of you read Greg Iles' books?


Looks like it rained last night. The sky is gray and the wind is, for once, not present. 

It looks like we're going from being hot for a couple of days back to the freezer. Such is the weather in Oklahoma.

I don't know about you, but my mind is on springtime and my gardens. Which typically happens this time of year. 

I'm thinking I will plant more seeds this year.

The one place I've ordered from that I was really pleased with, though it's been years, was Renee's Heirloom Seeds

Have you ever ordered from there?

I remember ordering Hyacinth Bean Vines from there quite a few years ago. I had enough seeds from the big purple beans at the end of the season that I sent them to bloggers all over the country!

Her website and her seed packets are delightfully colorful. Just what I want to see when the skies are gray and spitting cold rain.

So I think today I will go online to her site and peruse the flowers and herbs and vegetables. Something befitting a cold winter day when springtime seems but a distant memory.

For me, it is customary, when the earth is too hard and cold to dig, to instead dig into online seed catalogs and plan and ponder what I might plant and where.

I will make endless lists, with visions of colorful blooms dancing in my head.

Ah, and the water gardens I created last year! I can't wait to set them up again.

From last year:

Last year I went around the corner to Ace Hardware and found two galvanized tubs to create my water gardens. 

I bought a couple of water fountain kits at Home Depot.

Being in a garden with the sound of water bubbling and bees buzzing and butterflies going from flower to flower. True bliss.

Sitting under the gazebo sipping iced tea while the pupsters snooze in the chairs. Looking out over the patio gardens I have been creating here for three years. Nothing more satisfying.

I have always been a gardener. I will always be a gardener. It is one of the true joys in life, to putter in a garden. 

That, my beloved pupsters, books to read, and morning coffee. What more could a person possibly need or want?

Are you planning your gardens yet?

You can garden most anywhere. On an apartment balcony. On a patio, as I do, in containers. 

I hope I've planted the seed that will become your garden!

Note: Someone asked me how to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in container water gardens.

Answer: Mosquitoes seek standing water, preferring stagnant conditions. Water that stays fresh and in motion with a pump system doesn't attract them as a breeding ground. To save energy, consider using a solar pump. In addition to goldfish, mosquito fish, minnows, koi and guppies eat mosquito larvae.

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Cozy Little House
A Full Moon & A Book Review

A Full Moon & A Book Review

Last night there was a full moon. Peeking at me in between the bare branches, a beacon of light.

Do you ever look at the moon and wonder if someone you know is looking at it too? 

I used to wonder if my mother ever looked at the moon, and perhaps thought of her six children. Scattered far and wide. 

Never to be a family that gathered around a holiday table where they proclaimed their gratitude for one another.

More concisely, I wonder if she looked at the moon and thought of me, who she knew for all of six weeks of my newborn life.

Sometimes I wonder if she's dead. A good possibility of that, since she'd be in her early eighties. 

Is it estrangement if you never had a relationship, I've wondered as I read the book on this topic?

It feels somehow prescient to have never really known my mother. And then to have known my daughter all these years, and suddenly no longer have her in my life. 

I wonder, sometimes when I'm feeling nostalgic and emotional, if one somehow became the impetus for the other? If the very fact that I didn't know my mother somehow became prophetic?

I wonder if, since I didn't have a mother, whether I knew how to be one myself?  

I haven't really brought to the forefront the estrangement with my now 42 year old daughter until now. I felt guilty doing so, I suppose. 

But then, after reading Done With The Tears, I realized that it might help others who are going through this. Be a voice for them. And also give me comfort to be able to write about her instead of avoiding the topic of her altogether.

Do I worry about her reading it? I don't think she reads my blog. And if she did, I hope this helps her to understand: That she is never far from my thoughts.  

And now, I look up at the moon and wonder if my daughter is standing outside looking at the same moon. 

Just across town, I wonder if she looks at it, and sometimes thinks about me? 
The Bathroom:

The bathroom vanity came yesterday morning. But the maintenance man has now told me that he can't get to it for a few weeks. 

Great. Now I have this huge box taking up a lot of space in my living room.

The analogy I came up with, to see the humor instead of the aggravation, was that it's "the big white elephant in the room." Except it isn't white. 

The Book I Just Finished...

I finished The Drifter last night. It was one of those books that took me awhile to warm to it. But then I couldn't put it down.

The Drifter:

Sometimes in life, something happens, and it ends up defining us for the rest of our years. Something that perhaps was merely happenstance. 

Or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is the case for Betsy. She experienced something in college that she simply cannot shake. And it wasn't something that happened directly to her. But to her best friend.

Thus, the guilt began. It moved with her from place to place. It occupied a place in her mind that niggled at her at every opportunity.

She marries her college boyfriend. Has a child. 

But always, in the back of her mind, is the "tragic event." 

She uses drugs and alcohol to dull and obscure what she cannot come to terms with.

She sees trouble behind every face. She fears danger around every corner. 

Betsy is not just a product of having lived through something that happened to her best friend, something she feels some guilt for. But it has "become" who she is.

This novel is about being young. Making mistakes. Survivor's guilt.

It is about losing someone very dear to you in a violent and horrific way. 

It is only when she faces it, at a college reunion 20 years later, that the real facts unfold. And she then realizes that what she felt guilt for all those years was not in fact the real story at all.

But it shaped who she now is nonetheless.
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Cozy Little House

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