Come On In--Subtle Christmas Decor

See more about this sweet face below
This page was my first Creative page published 12-11. For several years, I featured creative posts on Bible Love Notes, but not any more. If you'd like to see those archives, you can find them HERE.

We serve a Creator God! And because we're made in God's image, we love to create things too. 

Today I'm sharing my "Understated Christmas" Mantel

My husband and I just returned from 3 months in Budapest with a two week breather before heading to Colorado to spend Christmas with my husband's parents. It's the year that our children and grandchildren spend Christmas with their other grandparents. 

Thus, my decorating this year is subtle. I'm not putting up a tree or taking out all the traditional decorations, but I couldn't let the season pass without a few decorative touches.

Our home is relatively new (a pre-forclosure...thank-You, Lord!). We've only been in it 2 years, and I haven't decided yet whether I want drapes on these windows...but I realized when I took these pictures that the windows look a little stark. hmmm..

 The oak rocker seems perfect for Christmas decorating even though we use it all year! 

It's "a family member" for us. We bought it at a yard sale for $5 the year my daughter was born (and she's 36!) and it was old then. The springs in the seat were popping through the fabric. 

It's been painted yellow and had about 4 seat covers as well as a reconstructed seat. 

It makes creaking sounds with every rock, but it's put a lot of babies and grandbabies to sleep just the same. : )

Let's take a closer look at the base of the fireplace and the little collection of items I thought looked good together. Most of these items have "stories."

The long, bumpy wooden "thing" is a handmade Hungarian antique. 

When I first saw it, I thought it was an unusual washboard, but the antique dealer explained it was actually a "fabric softener"!  It was used on rough burlap-type cloth to make it softer for wearing.  

I imagine many little children's and husband's work shirts were rubbed soft on this board 100 years ago. There's probably lots of mother-love rubbed into that wood!

And I wonder if women sat together using their "fabric softeners" and chatted with each other, sharing their lives--their joys and their sorrows. Did they also talk about the Lord together? What stories this wooden tool might tell us!

And I love vintage trunks and Suitcases. If only they could talk...the wonderful stories of travel they would tell! These by my fireplace are small so they couldn't hold much. Maybe they held someone's most precious belongings on leaving home...perhaps a well-used Bible.

The bottom suitcase is heavy cardboard, and I bought it from a man selling crafts at an outdoor craft fair at a church in Budapest, Hungary. The open suitcase I bought at a flea market in Krakow, Poland.

The man at the flea market was using the suitcase to transport the things he was selling, but I asked if I could buy it. He said "no," but the man next to him said something to him in Polish (I imagine he said "Quote her a high price and see if she's stupid enough to buy it."), so he asked me to give him $20 for it. I ended up paying $16. : ) Both of us thought we'd gotten a good deal.

I loosely folded a piece of Toile* cloth in the bottom and added the IKEA straw wreath for color.

My husband, who is the perfectionist in our family, put the rub-on lettering above our fireplace. It's such a good reminder to me that there's a difference between things I enjoy temporarily and things that are real treasures (things with permanent and lasting value, things we do out of love for Christ).  

I bought this lantern at Ross (Ross and Marshall's are two of my favorite spots) and it has an LED fire to worry about, which is great because I have curious grandchildren ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years. : )

Ahhhhh....old books....what can I say....I love them whether I can read them or not. That's why you'll find German, Hungarian and French books among those I've collected from around the world. I normally only pay a few dollars for them, but I choose them either for their title or the look of their covers. 

Pilgrim's Progress, Imitation of Christ (French), Wesley's Hymns

And I always try to imagine who read them...a farm girl from a small Hungarian village, an old woman with failing eyesight, a young man on his way to war.  Some of them are more than 100 years old.

This Christmas I decided to put all of my Red-Covered Books on the mantel. 

And I put one book facing forward.

It's vintage picture and title seemed especially appropriate for the season.

My friend Kim gave me this wonderful old book.

I love this handmade angel that I bought in a small shop in Krakow, Poland. I was attracted by her sleek lines and earthy/glazed look and most of all by her sweet face. There's a close up of her at the top of this page.

Well, that's a little glimpse of my home today and I wish all of you who read Bible Love Notes could "come on in" and sit awhile and tell me about the wonderful things God has done for you. Though we may never meet here on earth, you're invited to my home in heaven, and I look forward to seeing you there!

May God give you a blessed Holiday season filled with love and meaning! In Christ, Gail
My favorite sight in front of the fireplace...God created these : )
* Toile or Toile de Jouy is a type of cloth with a single color pattern against a cream or white background. Typically the pattern is a repeated, detailed scene or story. Although Toile has been around since the late 18th century, it became especially popular for décor and dishware in the last ten years.

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  1. Your mantle is lovely...I like all the red books up there. What a blessing you have had to be able to visit different countries....I am sue you have lots of memories!

  2. Thanks, Ceekay and fun to have you "Come On In" : )

  3. Had to comment! We were in Budapest this summer visiting people who work with the ECS Ministries Bible Study Courses. (My husband is the International Coordinator.) And my son has the book A Child's Life of Christ from his great Uncle after whom he was named! I love the old red books as a subtle Christmas touch!

    I'm visiting through Grandma's Briefs.

    1. How fun to have these connections! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. I've got several creative posts that feature my Budapest decor finds. I love Budapest.

  4. This is simply beautiful, Gail. I'm a firm believer in "understatement speaks loudest" and your decor truly speaks to my heart. I love the mantel with the books.

    What part of Colorado did you visit? I'm in Colorado Springs. Maybe one day we'll meet when you visit.

    Thank you for linking to the GRAND Social!

    1. My husband's and my hometown is Ft. Collins. I still have a sister there and he has his parents and a sister there. I'm a "native" but I was born in a very unattractive part of CO (LaJunta). We are now in NC because our daughter and 4 of our grandchildren are here, so we decided to settle near them when we returned from full-time work in Budapest.

  5. You certainly have a beautiful home -- and I love the children in front of the fireplace! They are the best decorations ever!

  6. Your minimalist approach is timely for me. Our tree has been sitting with just lights and garland for a week now while we recover from the flu. I think our decor will be minimalist this year, too.

    Loved the suitcase stories and the vignette you created! I'm pinning that picture. (I popped over from Titus2sday -- thanks for sharing!)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind compliments. I can so identify with you this year. This is my decor from last year, but the last week I've also had my tree up with lights only as I've struggled with a bad case of flu! I'm also going to keep things simpler this year again.

  7. Gail,
    I love your room. It is so pretty. The kids are an adorable addition. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop.
    Debi @ Adorned From Above
    Joye and Myrna @ The Busy Bee's
    Linda @ With A Blast


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