Simple and inexpensive Thanksgiving-ish centerpieces.

I have a post about creating guest space coming up soon! But it’s a bit long and has many photos. I’m also full of things to share about the kids. So stay tuned in the near future for that as well.  I just have something short to share quickly!

Wednesday, I went to a follow up with my doctor. Sometime I’ll have to share with you how much Ken and I have improved our health by going to him! But the real point of telling you that is because after the appointment, I got to shop at Whole Foods (since it’s right around the corner from the doctor’s and NOT right around the corner from us). By myself! So fun. It was great to wander around a little and find some specialty groceries that I can’t get a Sam’s Club, Costco, or Publix.

The best part about it (besides finding our hormone-free Thanksgiving turkey!!)?? The floral department!! Our local Publix doesn’t have one. I looked around the floral section, admiring the colors of fall but thinking ahead to Christmas. They had some darling arrangements made up and placed in mason jars, which I think would have looked just right in our home. But they were $15 each. 😦

I like long-lasting arrangements that can take me from one holiday to another without much effort . . . or cash. I wanted something I could get more mileage from and more than one vase-full. With that in mind, I picked out these 3 “bunches”, for $3.99, $5.99 and $6.99:

arrangement 2

Then I rummaged around the china hutch to find containers worthy of such floral simplicity. Here’s what I chose:

arrangement 1

Then I found glass “inserts” to hold the water that fit inside the containers without showing:

arrangement 4

Let the fun begin! I just started tucking the greens into the “vases”, and added the sprigs of curly twigs:

arrangement 5

And popped in the spring-looking but only white flowers available in the floral department at Whole Foods (and I just loved the idea of fresh and bright white flowers in my kitchen):

arrangement 3

Hmmm, something missing. Oh yeah, those $15 mason jar arrangements had some pinecones. I happen to have a few in my stash:

arrangement 6

Lovely! Now, just one more thing . . . I tied a ribbon onto one (for the dining room table):

arrangement 8

and tied some jute twine on the two for the kitchen (sorry, bad glare from the lanai windows):

arrangement 9

I am so happy with how simple and cheery these turned out. I have one for the kitchen table, the kitchen island, and the dining table. They would be stunning clustered together with some candles for a statement making centerpiece, but for now I’m enjoying them in their varying spots. 3 centerpieces for $17! Not bad! And I know greenery lasts longer than flowers, so when the daisies wear out, I’ll pull them and stick something into the greens and branches and pinecones that says “Christmas”. I have berries in mind. And a few sprigs of pine. For now, I’ll enjoy the daisies. Bring on the turkey!

–Beth 🙂

P.S. I used some floral wire to secure the pinecones to the lower part of the curly branches that I had snipped for the arrangements. Then I could stick them right down into the vase where I wanted them. Just in case you were wondering. 😉

Craigslist Blessing.

It’s so easy to get our eyes off all the blessings God bestows. Most of them we probably missed the first time around! But sometimes something comes along that one just can’t deny is a tremendous act of God’s outpouring of love in a tangible way. We celebrate those moments and thank the Lord for them. Inevitably, life continues and can soon choke out that gratefulness we feel about said blessing.

I wanted to take just a moment to write of such a blessing, not so much for telling all of you, but to force me to slow down and concretely commemorate God’s tender provisions by putting it into writing. It’s a way of re-celebrating how intimately involved God wants to be in even little aspects of our daily lives – areas we think may be “off limits” or out of His realm of caring.

Go back with me a few weeks. Surely you remember the {dining room table} that I’ve mentioned more than once. You may recall that it came with six chairs, 2 of which were {arm chairs} that I painted and am currently using at the ends of the table. I was left with 4 side chairs that I began to refinish for use at the kitchen table. The legs got painted. I began to staple fabric onto the chairs, fabric that began as an extra Ikea curtain panel I had on hand. I struggled. I tried. I wanted to like how it was turning out and told myself this would fabulous in the end.

My sweet husband saw my struggle and noticed my frustration. He kindly encouraged me to just get rid of the chairs and we’d do something else in the kitchen. Whew! Relief. So I listed them on Craigslist with sad little pictures. Solid chairs, good “bones”, in a sad state, a perfect project for an ambitious person: $15 each.

chairs 7

chairs 3

chairs 6

chairs 2

chairs 9

In an hour I got an email from one woman who wanted them. The next day she was to come out, so I told another woman who emailed that they were spoken for. However, first woman emailed me the next morning to say that her husband wanted her to wait since they were in the middle of a remodel. I understood. Boy, did I understand!! I respected that she respected her, probably respectable, husband. Still with me??

I emailed second woman and told her the chairs were once again available. She was thrilled and planned to drive out the next day, double checking on my asking price. She arrived the next morning with her son. She took a look at the chairs, oohed and ahhed that they were just was she was needing. She already had the fabric she would be using to complete them and looked forward to putting them into her French Country kitchen. We chatted about big moves, major changes, following Christ, and, as she was a few years ahead in her journey through life, she encouraged me to keep believing God has big things in store for our family! She was a breath of fresh air to my soul and I was so refreshed by this woman God brought to our home through Craigslist.

As she pulled her money out of her pocket, she talked about how God laid on her heart to pay more. She handed me the roll of 20’s and insisted I take $100 for them rather than the $60 I had asked for. Wow!! That has never happened to me in the history of selling on Craigslist! I refused but her son said, “She wants to do this. Please take it.” I humbly thanked her and received the blessing she wanted to bestow.

I have begun reading One Thousand Gifts Devotional (by Ann Voskamp) after receiving it as a birthday gift from a dear friend. I pray my eyes will be more and more opened to the “manna” we are fed from God; the daily food from His hand – the food needed for just today. You see, it wasn’t just the money. It was everything about the exchange. It was the encouragement one lover of Christ can offer another. The hug one older mamma can give a younger one, as if pumping just a little more stamina into her for the day. It’s the proof that God does not give up. That He doesn’t lead you to or into something and then let you go it on your own. It’s a little sign that He will provide fellowship and communion in places least expected.

Thank the Lord with me for Darlene, my Craigslist “buddy”, and her family, and pray that they will be richly blessed by the hands of God, as she has blessed our family by her encouragement and unnecessary generosity. And pray my simple eyes will be more opened to less obvious ways God provides, though still provisions and acts of love, nonetheless.


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.

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.

Dining Room Re-do, Part 1.

Every year, nearing the end of summer, I go through something equivalent to the “nesting” a pregnant woman experiences toward the end of her pregnancy. Each year when August rolls around, as a homeschooling mom, I feel the need to get the house all in order and our school areas organized and beautiful. I love to set up a study area for the kids and me that is pretty, tidy, and functional. This year is no exception. However, it’s a little different in that we are still moving into our new house!

2 summers ago, we began our school year on picnic tables under outside our camper we were living in while we remodeled our home in Maryland. This year, in our “new to us” Florida home, our dining room will be serving us two-fold: for mealtime and school time. Therefore, it has become my latest room in focus. With classes scheduled to begin next week, we’ve chosen this week to be our “soft start” for school. We’ll be painting the room, refinishing the Craigslist dining table, getting each of the kids’ school books organized and typing up daily and weekly planners. I may even squeeze in a lesson or two of math! (This is where all 5 of our kids would emit a collective groan!)

Here are some before shots of the dining room/study we’re working on:

dining room before 2 dining room before 3dining room, before paint

The color is a blend between mauve and terracotta — I really couldn’t teach the kids in these conditions!

And here is the before shot, courtesy of Craigslist, of the table and chairs we’ll be working on, and next week (if all goes as planned), we’ll be eating and studying at:

dining table before 2 dining table before

One could fit a small army around it, and has great legs so I can’t wait to make it beautiful! 

Stay tuned for a posting of the “after” look. I’m excited about how it’s going to turn out, if I can get the idea for it out of my head and onto the table! 

–Beth 🙂