Dining chairs revamped.

When we bought our dining room table off Craigslist, I had no thought of the chairs. It was always all about the table. I didn’t even care what the chairs that came with it looked like! They were merely an aside. But regardless, the set included 2 arm chairs and 4 side chairs. The arm chairs were leather, incredibly scratched up and stained. After they sat out on the front porch for too long for us to be called respectable neighbors, I figured out what I wanted to do with them. I decided to keep, paint and use the two end/arm chairs.

Their original “charm” was that on the right:

dining chairs 2

I bet you’re thinking, “It’s not that bad!” You’d be correct in thinking that way judging from the photo. But if you saw the chairs in person . . . oh boy, you’d be singing a different tune! Unfortunately (or fortunately??), I didn’t take any close-ups of the leather before I took those bad boys on. A chair used and abused for almost 10 years. No longer. We were going to give them the TLC they needed!

I chose a light french gray color for painting, yes painting, the leather. I used Maison Blanche chalk paint and after reading several different reviews and tutorials, was {pretty} sure I could make it work. I painted the arms and legs as well, with a black spray paint primer. I over-painted that with a light “wash” of the gray color used on the upholstery. I finished them off with a water-based varnish to seal the wood, and a furniture wax and buffing to seal the leather. Here are some side-by-side close-ups:

dining chairs 4

dining chairs 5

They turned out very charming and vintage-looking. A neighbor boy was over the day I was working on them and he commented how the “new” look of the chairs looked “old”. I told him, “Thanks — that’s the look I’m going for!” He said, “Oh, I like new things.” Spoken like a 12 year old. 🙂

Time will tell how the painted leather holds up. But so far, it’s a great finish. They’re comfortable to sit in and can be wiped right off. The finish turned out sort of “buttered leather” like. With a bit of a sheen. Quite pleasant, actually.

Here are some shots of how they look up next to the table:

table and chairs 3

table and chairs 4

The table is really big, really statement-making in a room. So the chairs at the ends of it needed to be somewhat the same, so as to not get lost, you know? We’re very happy with how it all turned out. It’s ready for what life in a household of 7 will throw at it. Meals? Games? School? Holidays? Yep, we’re covered.

–Beth 🙂

P.S. As mentioned regarding the table, if you’re interested in hearing more about the process I used for painting the upholstery and legs, let me know. I would be happy to type up a tutorial of the method I used.

Rocking ‘Riss.

We love our front porch rockers. Nothing like sitting in them with a mug of coffee, the ceiling fan on and the local tree frogs serenading. Rain or shine, it’s a nice place to be.

I’ve mentioned it previously: even before we moved our bodies into our new home, my dad had picked some rocking chairs out of the trash at the end of a neighbor’s driveway. What a treasure! He not only hauled them over to our new porch, but he put in his own sweat and time to paint them!

I casually mentioned I like the idea of black chairs. He gently informed me he wanted white chairs. They were his, after all. They’re just on loan to us while he’s not here. When he visits, they’ll be his. But I’m sure he’ll share.

In the meantime, Riss is keeping them from “rusting up”. And she’d love it if Grandad were here, rocking right next to her!

rocking riss

–Beth 🙂

P.S. I fessed up to the neighbor that it was we who took the chairs. She said she figured someone would take them, which is why she put them out. She had intended to refinish them herself, but got overwhelmed by other projects so she decided to abandon the idea. I know the feeling!

Dining table revamped.

So, I mentioned WAAAYYY back that I had gotten a great deal on a table on Craigslist. We found this solid oak, Lexington-made table with 6 chairs: dining table before dining table before 2 Would you look at the legs on that thing?? I saw potential! Never mind the finish. That was gonna go. We hauled this VERY heavy table home and I took on the job of refinishing it. Good thing we hadn’t started home schooling back up for the year; it took me about 4 days, working off and on, to get this thing how I wanted it. But this is how it looks now in our dining room (view from coming down the stairs): table from coming down stairs I love the table top stained a dark walnut! It’s so rich and warm. table top Here’s a close up of the legs: table legs And another, ’cause they’re so purdy: table leg close up I like the look of worn, vintage furniture. We wear furniture out anyway, so it’s all the better for it to start out that way from its early days in our home! table from end 2 table from end 3 table top 2 It has not one, but 2 leaves to add, so it will seat up to 12! I was able to pair it with black chairs we already have. I’ve decided to use the two arm chairs that came with the table for the ends of the table, but will not be keeping the 4 side chairs. (Not pictured; will post about them separately.) I snagged this beautiful silver tray at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore; I love the way it adds a touch of vintage charm to the table-top: habitat for humanity restore tray So, what do you think? Do you like it how it turned out? Let me know if you’d like a tutorial of how I refinished the table. I have some step-by-step photos that I could share, along with the products and method I used for stripping, staining, and painting it. But I don’t want to bore you if it’s not your cup of tea. Speaking of tea, a cup of chai sounds nice right about now. I think I’ll close . . . — Beth 🙂 P.S. Photography isn’t my thing. Have you noticed?? Also, I’m using my smart phone so the angles and clarity aren’t superb. But it’s efficient! I apologize.

Creative boy.

It starts like this: just a conversation over lunch. Of all things silly, simple, and innocent. Quite childish, but in a wonderful, refreshing way. Just 5 kids chatting about the life they lead — free of stress, financial responsibility, or relationship challenges.

Then the wheels start rolling in a boy’s head. A boy who knows no limits. A boy with a sharp mind and lots of creative genes coursing through his body. A boy who loves to build with his hands and wants a boat really bad.

And this is how it ends:

coles boat 1

coles boat 2

coles boat 4

coles boat 3

Oh, when all the fun was had, they had to clean the old fence panel particles out of the pool. 🙂


Missing Steve.

Moment of truth: I’ve been struggling. So many emotions are flooding my life right now. And I’m sad.


Lately, again and again, I’ve thought of the brother I said goodbye to way too soon last October. I guess with the anniversary of his death right around the corner, He’s very fore-front in my mind in so many ways. Like when the first week of August rolled around, and I remembered spending an afternoon with him and the kids at the fair just one short year ago. And then there was his birthday, the day I felt so crippled that I didn’t do one thing to reach out to any others I knew would be hurting also. Or when I read through some old emails and laugh about the “conversation” going back and forth between us. And knowing my birthday is right around the corner, so I pull out the card I received from him last year, never realizing it would be his last to me. Oh, how I’ll cherish it.


But here’s the thing: as precious as that card, a picture, or even a beloved heirloom is to us, it doesn’t bring them back. It helps to remind of us of the great love we shared with them. It can even help bring tears that were dormant for a while to the surface and give us an outlet for emotional release. But the hope I cling to the most, the deepest comfort I have is knowing that we’ll be together again, reunited in the presence of our precious Lord and Savior. No memento I have can do that.

Just this week, a song played on the radio as our youngest son and I were in the suburban. I sat and listened and drove and cried. Emotions flooding my soul. Sweet release of them in a safe place. A reminder of a conversation once had but long forgotten. Steve telling me of the song most requested for him to sing at funerals. I Can Only Imagine. At one time, he sang those words and they were true. He could only imagine. But now – NOW – he truly knows. No imagination required. I wonder what he’s found? He always had a good imagination. Yet I know he’s found so much more!

I miss him. For now, I’ll be the one imagining. What a grand reunion it will be someday!

Namie kids 4

You don’t want to miss listening to Steve sing all about it! If you can’t click on the link, copy and paste it into your browser: https://vimeo.com/106111845 .

New set of wheels.

Down here in the land of the tropics, where all things in nature grow quickly and in plenty, a good mower is a must! In our effort to be as transportable as possible, we decided to find a mower in Florida, rather than haul one down all the way from Maryland. Ken’s brother has been loaning his to us weekly since our arrival. He would graciously continue to do so, but this good deal popped up for sale right in our own neighborhood:

new mower


We drove by it for over a week before stopping. Ken kept thinking that it wasn’t a large enough mower deck. However, the urge to pull over took over and we stopped in a few days ago. Turns out, it’s everything Ken had been looking for (except an over-50-inch-cutting-deck). We reasoned that since the operators of said machine will for the most part be under 5 feet tall, it was quite a suitable size.

new mower colenew mower halia


new mower dean


new mower riss


So we’re the new proud owners of a mower. Don’t worry, only those trusted and shown approved will be cutting the grass. Maybe 1 or 2 of those pictured above. 🙂