Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christmas in July ~ Mary Engelbreit Style



Written by Charlotte Lyons  

Photography by Barbara Elliott Martin

Available here on Amazon.

Sharing this book review with 

Cowgirl Up

 A Texas Christmas in July 

Filled with gorgeous photos of both Mary Engelbreit's art work and her beautiful home decked for the Christmas season, this book has been a favorite since it was first published in 1995.  All of the editions of the M. E. Home Companion series are part of my M. E. library, but I think this one is my favorite.  

Each of the eight chapters features stunning photographs of the homes of Mary and some of her friends and ends with a do-it-yourself project complete with an addendum of project patterns.

Bringing in the Season ~ shares ideas for decorating with fresh greens both inside and out.  A handmade kitchen wreath is the project.  My fresh wreath above was a gift from Liz @ Rose Vignettes.  I was the lucky one to win her Fresh Cut Friday giveaway, and this huge wreath of fresh greens arrived at my doorstep in early December that December.

I eventually changed out the red details for white and silver and hung it in the windows of our dining room. The fragrance of fresh greens was a welcomed joy the entire holiday season and on into the new year.

Down the Chimney ~ focuses on the different ways to adorn one's mantel or "Santa's doorway".  There are many beautiful examples photographed for the book, but I'm sharing our mantel at Christmas and those of several of my friends. There is inspiration to be found in all.

The elegance of candles and angels . . .

Nutcrackers . . . 

Garland of Radko ornaments . . .

Frosty snowmen . . .

Magnolia leaves and Bing and Grondahl

plates featuring Christmas Around the World . . .

Texas longhorn decked out in holiday greens.

Photo credit ~ Barbara Elliott Martin,

The above mantel is one of my favorites from the book.  It is featured on page 31 ~ a mantel honoring a collection of roosters among evergreens atop black and white checks.  

Project directions for a handmade felt stocking is this chapter's bonus.  The treasured felt stocking from my childhood was just such a handmade gift from a loving aunt.

O Christmas Trees ~ is an abundance of decorated trees ~ large and small ~ floor to ceiling ~ tabletop ~ traditional ~ themed ~ swags of popcorn ~ swags of silk ~ beautiful one and all.

With a nod to both Mary Engelbreit and MacKenzie-Childs, 

 our tree here at HFTS features . . .

An abundance of hearts . . .

Whimsical animals . . .

Santa figures . . .

And of course black and white check silk ribbon.

Merriment ~ is all about beautiful holiday tablescapes . . .

Set with seasonal details.

Tabletop Trees ~ features those special little mini trees that can easily accent various rooms around the house.  Many are theme trees ~ spaceships and robots, tiny chairs, things for the garden.  The tabletop tree at HFTS happens to feature folk art ornaments and an abundance of roosters.  Imagine that!

One of my friends has a small tree just for the silver ornaments she has collected through the years.

Another friend uses a small tree with twinkle lights to anchor a little snow village . . .

While this friend groups a collection of mini glass ornaments on a small tree that she places among a group of special Limoges Christmas boxes.

All Through the House ~ is full of photos of various vignettes of collections and holiday decor.

Vignettes atop dressers . . .

Bowls of Christmas balls . . .

Vanity vignettes with lighted accents . . .

There are snowmen . . .

Of all shapes and sizes . . .

And Santa collections are abundant on tabletops . . .

And elsewhere.

The chapter ends with directions 

for making your own paper-maché Santa.

Traditions ~ offers a variety of traditions that the author, Mary, and others have shared with family through the years.  One of my childhood Christmas traditions was making cutout cookies for the holidays.

My siblings and I would spend hours sitting around the kitchen table decorating each cookie with bright icings, silver balls, and sprinkles.

Some were so detailed they were almost too pretty to eat!

In the Wink of an Eye ~ the final chapter is about making what I call "heart and hand" gifts ~ those gifts that are full of heart because we make them with our own hands.  The Cherry Chick and I exchanged "heart and hand" gifts one Christmas.

I created a box covered with fabric of cherries and checks and filled it with cherry themed gifts specifically for Vicki.

Vicki in turn created a box of Christmas charm. 

~ Santa, Hearts, and Checks ~

Inside were some Mary Engelbreit gifts and this beautiful pair of cherry earrings created by the Cherry Chick, herself! 

I just have to share the big news.  The Cherry Chick was asked to create a Limited Edition Collection of Cherry Chick Jewelry for Mary Engelbreit's Shop.  Click here to see this charming collection.

If you like to see how others create holiday magic in their homes, you'll want a copy of this delightful treasury of ideas and inspiration.  

What better Christmas in July gift could one ask for?

To view a review of some holiday tablescapes click here.

Party List


The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. Sarah,
    Dear friend, the one (of many) thing we truly have in common is our love of ME!!! What a delightful "book review"! I still hold close to my heart her collection of Home Companion Magazines for continual reference...season after season! Thank you for sharing your "Cherry, black and white check, ME Christmas" inspiration!

  2. So many pretty mantels, trees and vignettes, Sarah! Your tree with the MacKenzie-Childs black and white check is especially beautiful and unusual! Thanks so much for sharing at the Christmas in July Party!...hugs...Debbie

  3. Sarah,
    I love Christmas books and this one is now on my list of those to buy! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful book with all of us!
    I have been sharing the series of books "The Spirit of Christmas" on my Christmas blog. I love those too!


  4. Hi Sarah,
    The minute I spied your Rednesday photo I sighed! Oh, how I love Mary Engelbreit! My sewing room has many of her signature touches in it. I have the book you featured...Would you believe I found it while thrifting several months ago. I have been able to find many of her magazines at thrift stores. I can't imagine EVER getting rid of even one!
    Thank you for your delightful Christmas post, my friend!
    Blessings and Happy Rednesday!

  5. Sarah I think this post has just done me in!! So much gorgeous Christmas eye candy! I think I hear jingle bells!! Love it all and too hard to pick a favorite! I love the ME book! Hugs, Linda

  6. WOW at the Beautiful Christmas!!! Makes me want to start singing Christmas songs! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  7. Oh No! I'm humming Christmas caroles! You've put me in a Christmas mood, and it's July! At least it makes me think of cooler days. Beautiful photos and wonderful Christmas treasures in this post. laurie

  8. Isn't ME just great? You really got the Christmas mood rolling there. I love the cherry and checkered cloth, just so pretty.

  9. These photos do COOL THINGS OFF A BIT! lOVELY!

  10. Sarah I feel full of Christmas guilt - I didn't even have time to prepare for it last year being away so much - now I'm thinking about the next one coming up and I won't even be here at all! Decorations won't even come out of the attic again!!!!! Going home for Christmas this year, yippee!!!!

    Great post - lots of pretty things to enjoy.
    Hugs - Mary

  11. What a wonderful post with so many beautiful inspirations! Thank you so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

  12. So many beautiful pictures...I really love all the ways that the black and white checks are incorporated!

    Have a great day!
    Aledia @ Plum Perfect

  13. This is gorgeous! Love all the pretty detail! I appreciate you linking this to Potpourri Friday!

  14. Your decorations are beautiful! I especially love the trio of trees in your window. I also like the mantel in pictures #6.

  15. beautiful. i'm definitely ready for cooler weather. i think that is why these photo appeal so to me so ... the weather has been so humid & hot lately ... (:

  16. Beautiful Christmas post, I also like Christmas books. Thanks.

  17. Hi Sarah, What a delightful Christmas in July post! Another thing we share is a love for ME! I've enjoyed her magazines early on and have stationary to valentines with her charming illustrations. I love your MC ribbon and the ME decorations. The white etched ornaments are beautiful in the bowl, an idea I want to copycat. Beautiful Christmas decorations Sarah.

    The French Hutch

  18. Fun! I love the garland of Radko ornaments, wish it was mine:@)

  19. I love ME. Between her work and that of Susan Branch, I'm in heaven! One of my goals in life is to make a tree of felt ornaments. I just love them and so of course I love that felt stocking. Remember back in the sixties when it was common to see a whole family dressed alike? One year my mom made white felt skirts with an appliqued Christmas tree (with decorations) for me and my sisters. Of course she had one too and I've always remembered them as being one of my favorite Christmas memories.

    Sarah, I've been behind on my blog reading as I've been enjoying movies and reading books this summer but I've appreciated you stopping by and leaving comments. Happy week.

  20. I love the longhorn decorated for Santa! So many pretty pictures! It's never too early to think about Christmas. It will be here before you know it!

  21. THanks for stopping by my place today, too! New York is one of my favorite places! I'm shamelessly promoting the Blog Sisterhood! Have you had a chance to check out? Www.TheBlogSisters.com

    (your header reminded me of yesterday's gospel about the loaves and fishes!)

  22. Such delightful images. I am hosting a Giveaway to win a 50 dollar gift card to the store HomeGoods. It would be great if you stopped by and entered. Thanks Anu

  23. Hi Sarah!

    I love Mary Engelbreit and don't have that particular book. I just visited her website last week and saw that Cherry Chick had her jewelry listed.

    Thanks for sharing all those wonderful Christmas ideas at my party.

    xoxo Bunny Jean
    Wednesday's Bunny Hop Party!

  24. I have all of Mary Engelbreit's books, most of then signed, since she's a local. I never tire of looking at them and always find inspiration no matter what decorating style I happen to have embraced at the time.

  25. Sarah,

    Thanks so much for participating in the Celebration of Christmas in July over at A Debbie-Dabble Christmas!
    It was such fun, wasn't it?
    I will be leaving the links on my Side Bar until October.
    Hopefully, next year I will be organized enough to do a Christmas in July Linky Party!
    Thanks again!

  26. Beautiful! I have been so enjoying these Cmas in July posts! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  27. Sweet Sarah...as usual I'm so far behind on keeping up with my favorite blogs. I was doing a search for something and came across your delightful mention of me and the Mary Collection. :-)
    I think of you often when I see my cat spoon rest on my kitchen counter and always when I spot your very special box in my studio. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness my friend. That was a very special Christmas that year.


Thank you to each of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and will respond to any questions. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.