Monday, December 1, 2014


If you do not follow The Decorated House or shop at Donna Courtney's Etsy Store, maybe you should sign-up to follow her blog and shop with her as I do.  Even though my decorating style (I would say I am traditional with a nod to American Folk Art) is vastly different from hers I so admire what she does and love her graphics, etc. that she sells.  She is also kind and generous as last Christmas  I decided I wanted to do my version of her beautiful Christmas tree and mantel (I will have to do my entry table in lieu of a mantle because I have a modern fireplace, no mantle and a big TV over the fireplace) so I wrote to her and she gave me permission to use her images on my blog.  I wrote to her again this year to verify and generous person that she is, once again she gave 
permission. Not all bloggers are so generous.

I learned a long time ago that it is better to be inspired by something and make it your own then to try and duplicate the exact same thing which would surly end up in disappointment.

I knew the only way I would do this big departure from my normal Christmas decorating was if I planned a year in advance.  For two reasons: 1) We will not be hosting Christmas this year so I felt like I could move away from tradition without flack from the family and this way I would just do one tree as I normally do two. 2) Cost - by deciding in advance I was going to try this I was able to purchase items for up to 90% off after Christmas.  I even got some really neat things from Crate & Barrel 70% off + free shipping. I found some "faux" MacKenzie-Child's ornaments on Ebay that a seller had hand painted.

An ex-voto is votive offering to a  to a saint or to a divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the  Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion. Ex-votos are placed in a  church or chapel where the worshiper seeks grace or wishes to give thanks. The destinations of pilgrimages often include  shrines decorated with ex-votos.

I purchased my Ex-Voto very reasonably off of Ebay last year and I must say I was a little disappointed when I pulled it out and the tin had turned from a nice silver to somewhere between dark grey and black.  So flying by the seat of my pants I decided it really needed to look better than this and I set out to make it better.
I first went over the gold with a gold colored pen and then tried a little silver leafing on part of the ex-voto just to see if it would work.
My finished product - I intentionally left some of the leafing off and took some light sandpaper and sanded off some more silver leaf.  Then I used some gold Rub n' Buff to go over the gold so it would have a more muted look.

Finished "painting."  The Madonna & child image is printed out on cotton canvas for ink jets. Then the first thing I realize when putting this together - scale of Madonna TOO big - I pulled the picture out of the bigger frame. Oh well, will find a use for the frame later - probably painted a different color???

This beautiful crown is going to be the hard one emulate. I think Donna told me she found hers at HomeGoods.  I searched the net for months to no avail.  I did find a site that had sold some but they were out and no longer had a source and from the other requests I saw on their site, I was not alone in my quest.
OK, here is where the imagination comes into play....I bought this hanging candle lantern, red tagged, after Christmas last year. I was thinking that if I did not find the beautiful crown, this would be my back up item.
I carefully removed all the hardware and turned the lantern over.  I found these glass crown votives & hubby used a drill bit for glass and cut a hole in one of them.

Glued the crown with the hole to the top and the other on the bottom for height. Even though I yearn for the other crown (and will keep looking) I think that set with the other items this crown for our "King of Kings" looks lovely (and the hook left from the chain you cannot see).

 A favorite Eiffel Tower ornament (Pottery Barn last year)

 The "trees" are grape picks set in florist foam.

 A favorite polar bear.

 The crown.
  The ex-voto.

With the dark color of the table and the fact that it is not a mantle (which is up higher) it needed a few more things or it just looked way too bare - like I said "make it yours" be inspired.

I also had to contend with the fact that I was not willing to take down the antique mirror in the entry - it is put together with square nails and I try to not disturb it if I don't have too. 

I like the way it looks and think it is a very nice welcome to holiday guests. Now on to the inspired tree....

To print, if  you have a draw program simply copy and paste. It is also easy to bring the image into Picasa and print from there.  If you don't have Picasa, it is free and handy, here is the link.


Madonna print, public domain art, William-Adolphe Bougeureu
Lights for the table, Glitter Gem Garland, Costco
Silver Leaf Metal by Creative Concepts, hobby stores
Ex-voto, Ebay
Frame, Hobby Lobby
Ink Jet cotton canvas paper for Madonna, hobby stores, online
Mercury glass ornaments, etc. Crate & Barrel, Marshall's, HomeGoods and Pottery Barn.
Chalk paint used on frame, American Decor, Color: Yesteryear, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot
Wax, Annie Sloan clear wax

Thank you for stopping by.


  1. WOW!!!!!!!!! GORGEOUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thank you Anonymous - I think the Madonna & child is very soothing. j.

  3. I am loving it Joy!
    And your idea for the crown is great! It turned out so pretty. Oh you know how I love silver and mercury glass and sparkly at Christmas time. I know you must smile every time you walk by your lovely table.

  4. Thank you for the inspiration Donna - like I said my version, very different house. The crown was the best I could do as I really hunted for one like yours and I'm thinking they have gone the way of the dodo bird as one is not to be found. I do smile and the Madonna and child print makes me feel very soothed and calm too. j.