Before I share a Christmas tour of this vintage inspired home, let me introduce you to a dear farmhouse loving friend. You will love her! My creative writer/teacher/encourager/hospitality minded friend takes vintage farmhouse treasures and makes magic in their city home. She creates vignettes using family antiques and weaves them with handmade treasures. A visit to their cozy home inspires me to create and motivates me to love others more fully in simple heart-felt ways. Here is a glimpse of their home last Christmas.
Do you love the fun of a cookie exchange? Gretchen hosted one in their home 3 decades ago and her hospitality drew me in from the start. After getting an invitation to her cookie exchange, I was very excited to participate and get to know this lovely lady whom I attended church with. While our friendship grew, she became a confidant, mentor, Bible study teacher, and project buddy. Our common interests of collecting farmhouse antiques, baking, gardening, setting pretty tables, music, handmade gifts, photography, hospitality, and nurturing families were the foundation for time spent together. Our husbands became friends as well, so we enjoyed family times centered around meals and special events. She became our first two children’s piano teacher. I appreciate all the time she and Dave invested into our lives.
I’ll share a funny 2 second video of one attempt to take a selfie. Husband didn’t see any humor in it. Maybe you need to be a girl.
Our friendship was a few years old when her husband responded to a call into the ministry. He became a full-time pastor resulting in them moving from our little town in Colorado. One awesome thing about their move to Nebraska, was that they moved near enough to my parents that we still kept in touch by short visits. While in Nebraska, Gretchen became active in quilting groups and her love for quilting grew as did her skills and the size and number of her projects. A few years ago he accepted a call to a church in Cheyenne. This was even more convenient for us to visit them because all of my hubby’s family lives there, making an annual visit to the Carlson’s a likely possibility.
Last Christmas season, I was invited for breakfast for a short girl time visit. She had prepared a delicious muffin, fruit salad and latte on a beautifully set table. We chatted fast and furious about family and our personal lives. Before leaving, she graciously allowed me to take a few photos of their home for inspiration and to share with family. (We didn’t know I would be sharing them with you.) I know you will be inspired! Here is a small sample of what will be shared.
Let’s start in the living room and pause at the sleigh bench coffee table. Featured here is a treasure made by Gretchen’s dad. She reflected on the Christmas she announced to her parents that all gifts were to be handmade. Her father was not known to be creative, yet he surprised everyone with this handmade cabin constructed with cinnamon sticks! This thoughtful gift means more than any purchased gift and brings back a happy memory of Christmas past. The hand laced canoe was crafted by her talented husband from birch bark gathered from an Alaska trip to visit their son and his family who reside there.
Vintage farmhouse collectibles and family keepsakes are used to decorate little Christmas trees throughout their home.
This writer/friend has clever ways to express thoughts and reminders throughout her house. Here are a few of her messages that made me smile.
Messages can be expressed with creative handmade art. Ornaments are crafted from birchbark and are keepsakes from trips to visit kids and grandkids in Alaska.
Let’s pause on the tour to make a quick stop in the guest bath to check out the vignettes.
This drawer has served a different purpose in each home they have lived in.
The Christmas tree was made by Gretchen’s mother from pieces of grandmother’s jewelry collection. I dream of making something like this. What a great way to use broken or forgotten jewelry!
We stepped outside into the crisp air to admire a gift created by her husband. This well-built pallet house was repurposed to entertain six grandchildren for many hours of imaginative play.
My mother’s a master quilter, and I dabble in it, so of course we took time to talk about some of Gretchen’s creations. She has made a quilt for each grandchild, and has plans to make each a Christmas quilt, which as she says, will never go out of style.
This beautiful piece and hand quilted treasure resides on their bed.
Recently she sent me this photo of her current project that was a stack of blocks last Christmas. It looks like it will be sewn together shortly. She remarked, “What was I thinking?!!”
I do love miniature quilts. This is a lovely one!
That concludes the tour. I hope you are inspired! This friend is much more than an inspiration for creativity. She inspires in other ways as well. This year she completed her 4th Sprint Triathalon. I didn’t know that athletic side of her, so am wowed that she can accomplish that! I do know the hospitality side, and see that the Lord is continuing to use that gift in various ways. She started an outreach to Somali’s to teach them English at their church, which opened doors for other ways to serve and love on them. She hosts and leads women in various ways, and together she and her husband are active in Supper Groups and regularly host people in their home for fellowship. She is a talented writer, and some of our conversation was about a secluded writers conference Dave surprised her with that is in Alaska. I look forward to sharing more about her project when she gets published.
In closing, I would like to reflect that Gretchen is the one who encouraged me to follow Anne Voskamp a number of years ago. Anne writes a blog called A Holy Experience, and has written several books. Her Christmas devotional, The Greatest Gift, would be a timely read.
I love to collect. I love to decorate and create. I love Christmas and building relationships with loved ones. But, as we prepare for such a favorite time of the year, let’s remember to focus on what is really important about Christmas and make an effort to keep it simple. In Anne’s words, “I don’t want a Christmas you can buy. I don’t want a Christmas you can make. What I want is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, JESUS.”