Makeover for plain curtains.

You would not believe how such a simple change could make such a big difference. Well, you probably would, but that seemed like a good opener. The backstory: we are working on getting the last little things done in the guest room. There is a French door leading to the foyer, I suppose so the room could be used as an office or sitting room. We aren’t replacing doors in the house just yet, so we are stuck with glass door, despite using the room as a spare bedroom.

Ken hung a curtain rod above the door inside the room, so the curtains could be drawn for privacy as needed. But can be opened to let in light and open the room up a little more. Since we’re pinching pennies wherever possible, we put to use some previously owned tab-topped curtain panels, generously handed down to us from Ken’s mom. Here’s the outcome:

guest room curtains

Oh no. Oh, no, no, no – this will not do. These curtains used here make me think of ill-fitting clothes (imagine: high-waters) and outdated accessories (think: poufy hair scrunchies. Oh, to think we actually sewed and proudly wore them as teens – in every color possible!) It’s not that the curtains themselves were a problem. It’s that I had to hang them high enough for the door to clear. And that they need to slide open and closed easily (which I don’t find tabs to do). I kindly thanked Ken, and knew I had to fix it somehow. My head hit the pillow that night, and then it came to me: ruffles!!

See, Ken’s mom hadn’t just given us just one pair – she gave us about 5 pairs! Of the same type! So, a day or two later, I hauled out the sewing machine and gave those nerdy-looking curtains over the door a much-needed makeover. Using another panel, I added some ruffles, dug out some clip rings for easier sliding and then ironed them all. Ta-da!!

guest room curtain after ruffles

Oh yes. Much better. Much, much better! (Just for fun, scroll back up to the “before” shot to appreciate how much cuter they really are! I have stepped into the room at least once a day since fixing them . . . just to say “hello” to my pretty new friends.)

Now I can warmly welcome guests into our home and show them to their “quarters” without feeling the need to explain that we’re trying to save money and use what we have and that’s why we hung the curtains over the door that we haven’t budgeted to replace yet because the room was supposed to be an office but we’re using it as a guest room and with that in mind won’t you please enjoy your stay!

Nope. I can just skip right to the “enjoy your stay” part!


P.S. Stay tuned — hope to post more shots of the guest room soon. You future “guests” may be interested in those! Please pardon the poor quality photos. I’m lazy and just snap shots with my phone. Another “someday” . . . I’ll take photos with a nicer camera.

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Have you seen my dining table makeover? We took a “blah” table that we bought off Craigslist and made it just right for our home. We love it! You can read all about it *here* if you haven’t already.

My sister-in-law, Lisa, was also on the hunt for a new table for her dining room. We’d been scouring Craigslist for a piece just right for them, to no avail. Well, she stumbled on something several weekends back that had us all excited so we hooked the truck up to the trailer (well, our husbands did) and the 4 of us hauled out to Downtown Orlando for her 8 foot “solid wood”, “dark brown” find.

Upon arrival at the owner’s house, we *find* that it was a veneer top. And black. And scratched. Well, the scratches we could have done something about, were it solid wood. But it wasn’t. So Lisa decided not to get it, and our trailer stayed empty. Lisa kept a stiff upper lip, knowing that just the right table will come along soon enough. She’s good and patient, that one.

We pulled into 7-11 for a consoling cup of coffee. Turns out Ken’s iced tea was fermented and Lisa’s cream for her coffee was sour. He leaves with nothing and she dumps her coffee in the parking lot trash. (This may or may not be the best time to say it, but the coffees Dave and I were drinking were delicious.)

We settled for a drive by the lake, through a picturesque portion of the Orlando shop district.

We ended up in Winter Park to check out Ken’s new office. We found some parking to accommodate a truck and (empty) trailer and headed across the street from a restaurant called Burgerfi. None of us had been there, but one of us had heard great things and all of us had to try it! Their claim to fame is all natural burgers – hormone-free, grass-fed – everything I prefer with my beef.

I found this photo of the Winter Park Burgerfi — decorated for Christmas. Which it obviously wasn’t when we were there.

I bet the burgers are fabulous. I’d like to find out for myself. But being that it was getting late and we had kind-of, sort-of had dinner already, we decided to go “light” and split some French fries, onion rings and a “Concrete”. What’s a concrete, you ask? So did I. Actually, I just read the menu where it explained that it was Burgerfi’s custard layered with basically any other dessert of your choice. Since we were sticking with a “light” theme (ha!), we chose Key Lime.

I’m telling you, it was a decision we didn’t regret. The Key Lime was so fabulous! You might wonder why we didn’t get 2 concretes. Why, actually, we did – one for each couple! And just when we were scraping the bottom of the cups (Lisa thinks I may have gotten some plastic cup on my spoon), it came to mind that I maybe should have taken a picture. Just to put right here in this little post. But I didn’t. I was busy scraping plastic from the side of my cup. So I had to borrow a picture from the freely-sharing World Wide Web.

This, my friends, is a Key Lime Concrete:

And to think I had foolishly assumed I wasn’t hungry and that we wouldn’t be able to finish our concrete. So much for eating “light”. 🙂


P.S. Since that eventful, delicious evening, I’m happy to report that Lisa has found just the right table for her dining room! Patience paid off. 😉

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: .

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. 🙂



Ken’s office.

A top notch remodeling company is storming Winter Park, Florida. It’s so exciting! Ken and his business partner, Richard, are busy getting all the details in order for their their new residential remodeling company. One of those details was finding office space to rent, and they’ve secured a place! It’s really so quaint — here are some pictures.

View walking into office, which will be the “conference room”:




view walking in


View walking into adjoining room, which will be Ken’s private office:

view in ken's office


window view

(See that arched window?? Here’s the view from it, which will be a view from Ken’s desk):

direct view from desk


Back to the conference room . . . here are the views from those windows:

table view, view out main window


Can you see him eating his lunch at that table?? I’m so excited for him. He’s looking forward to getting settled in!

I get to help decorate this place . . . fun, huh??

We’ve already been busy getting it just right for the new company (and by “we”, I mean mostly Ken – although I have been helping to paint the last couple days).

I love Benjamin Moore paint colors. Ken loves Sherwin William’s actual paint base. Back in Maryland, we painted our whole remodeled house with Ben Moore colors *in* a Sherwin William’s base. It was a happy union. Down here, I bought a 5 gallon bucket of a color I *thought* I loved (I did on my MD walls) – turns out, it’s not loving being on the walls of a Florida home. I’m not loving it either. Ben, I’ll always love you and I’m sure we’ll be reunited someday, but for now I’ve been let down and I need some space. It’s time for me to explore other options.

So, we chose Sherwin William’s colors for the office. Since olive is one of the company logo colors, Ken wanted to do an accent wall in olive. I went along with it – it IS his office, after all. Considering my love of all things gray, I had to choose an olive with undertones of gray. Well, at least “gray” is in part of the name. Here’s the color of the accent wall, followed by the color of the other walls:

SW 6165 Connected Gray:







connected gray


SW 6162 Ancient Marble:

ancient marble


I like to choose colors from the same color strip (which is what we did here), so the undertones are the same. I have no idea if this is the way it’s supposed to be done, it’s just the way I like colors blending in my house, so it’s the way I decided to blend colors in the office. I hope the two rooms’ final look comes together the way I have it pictured in my head!

Oh, something fun to stay posted for – we found some cool “alligator leather” chairs for the conference room. I’ll share photos when the room all comes together! 🙂


P.S. If you have a few extra minutes, take a look at the city of Winter Park: It’s really a beautiful city (town??). Well, whatever it’s called, it’s lovely.

P.P.S. I really don’t know why there are such large gaps between my text and photos, and since I’m new to blogging, I don’t know how to fix it. Sorry, it doesn’t look pretty, but at least it’s not cutting anything out!

First day of school.

What a day of mixed emotions! Jake started high school today! Actually, he pretty much started last week. But today was his official first day with Circle Christian School, a private home school academy where he’ll be taking classes twice a week. His classes are: Humanities (which includes Language Arts and American History, presented through a biblical worldview), a 3 hr. class; Biology, a 1.5 hr. class; and Algebra 1, a 1.5 hour class. Of course, his day will include a lunch break and a couple 10 min. breaks. It’s going to be a challenging year for him, based on what we see the in class overviews. I’m sure he’s up for the challenge! I really look forward to learning alongside him. He’ll have a few other subjects at home as well, altogether earning 7.5 credits for 9th grade.

Anyway, back to the mixed emotions part. It’s a complicated thing to be so proud and excited and sad at the same time. It seemed not too long ago that I was taking pictures of his first day of Kindergarten. Really, he’s the same sweet, sensitive and funny and thoughtful boy he was at 5. Just in a bigger package. We checked his height this morning; he’s grown over 1.5 inches just since April!

We’re so thankful for this young man in our family and are grateful for what the Lord is doing in his life. We look forward to seeing what special things lie in store for him in the future! We will miss him while he’s away 2 days per week, but feel much peace about where he is studying and what he is learning it makes it worth it.

august 2007 020jake 1st day 9th grade

First day of 2nd grade (Jake on the left, Cole on the right); First day of 9th grade. Super cute either way! 🙂

Keeping me on my toes still at home are 4 other “Maucklets” who look to me as their primary instructor – yikes! Although there is a desk in each of the rooms upstairs (girls’ and boys’), they all decided to work near each other at the new table in the dining/school room. I am loving the way the room is coming together and it’s so pleasant to be in that I happily agreed. (More on the room in another post). Marissa called out to everyone to give her a hand moving all the chairs from the kitchen table to the dining room table (since I don’t have the chairs refinished yet). It was sweet to observe them excitedly preparing the place they were going to be working.

first day school 2014 4

We all fit around it with room to spread books out a bit. And, it doubles as a cafeteria at lunch time:

first day school 2014

Dean initially said while sitting at the table early in the day, “I’m so excited to be starting school again!” I think the enthusiasm wore off by the end school time. The kids overall were eager learners. We got a visit from a wild visitor — a gopher turtle crossing the front yard — so we took a break to observe it closer.

gopher turtle

That led me to make studying gopher tortoises with Dean and Marissa our science for the day. After all, we do live in Florida now and should be familiar with the natural habitat. Here’s what they each dictated to me for the science journals:

“The gopher tortoise grows to 10-16 inches. They are a wild species. Do not touch them. They are endangered. The females have a flat bottom shell, and the males have a bump on theirs.” (Marissa)

“A gopher tortoise has strong legs for digging tunnels and holes. It can live as long as 100 years. Other animals find safety in the holes. When the eggs are in cooler temperatures, it hatches a male. If the temperature is warmer, it hatches a female.” (Dean)

Now you know a little bit about gopher turtles, too! Just what you’ve been dying to know, huh??!!

gopher turtle first day school

(That’s one of our kitty cats right next to the tortoise)

I wouldn’t say we accomplished a whole day’s worth of school, by any means. But we enjoyed our time and put up a good effort! So that’s good enough for a first day for me.


P.S. Jake came home saying his day was OK — not bad and not great. First days can be like that. The setting was pretty overwhelming and he only knew (more like, recognized) one other person. And it was a girl. So it’s not like they hit it off. 🙂 But he has a positive attitude about it all and I appreciate that. He’ll know plenty of other kids in no time!