Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Simple French-Looking White & Green Fall Vignette

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Lone Star State is still green.  
Well, as green as north Texas gets in late summer. 
The grasses, flowers, trees, shrubs... all have a fine film of dust
(lack of rain)
making them a dusty green.
The leaves on the trees are still green with a few brown edges.
Indications that fall is approaching... 

The calendar says it is officially fall,
but the temperatures and foliage say it's really still summer.

Reading other blogs and looking at linking party photos
inspired me to create a 
simple white and green fall vignette 
on my kitchen counter.

The white pedestal cake stand is a recent find.
Call it new vintage...

I use the metal stars all year.
Christmas...Fourth of July....Valentines...Birthdays...Everyday...No Occasion...
Make my eyes happy...

A small ivy and preserved boxwood complete the usual counter arrangement.

The simple white and green color scheme is cool and refreshing.

From this side, you can see the small ivy...
plus the large upside down French-looking mercury glass ornament
 and small etched glass candle holders.

First new addition for fall...
a small pot of white chrysanthemums 
found at the grocery store.
Dropped them into a white stoneware pot
that has a French look...

From the same grocery store, I found several 
small inexpensive gourds, squashes, and pumpkins from which to choose.

A small white pumpkin with a twisty stem,
A textured pale green gourd covered in nodules
with a twisty stem,
A green and white striped squash...

Fit the cake pedestal just right,
Complete the decorating rule of three...

The small patch of green moss gives another textured layer.

Another view...
Being on the countertop, the vignette is visible from all sides.

The verdigris metal swan nestling next to the white chrysanthemums
is a fountain spigot.
Water streams from its mouth.

This is my latest found treasure.

is a garden shop 
that offers upscale exterior furniture and garden accessories.

The Fort Worth store, located in an old ice house, 
retains the original massive beams and ice-house mechanisms.

I enjoy shopping the store for ivy topiaries, 
for small items that fit into my budget, and
for the enjoyment of soaking in the old building's architecture.
Last week, I found this beautiful swan in their sale room.
No fountain, no pump, 
just the swan...
75% off...

He fits right into the white and green color scheme.

No yellow,
No orange,
No red fall leaves...
in my vignette...

North Texas doesn't have those colors outside yet...
red leaves maybe never.

there is a small blue floral dish with a white heart in my vignette.

Botanic Bleu

Enjoy the colors of your fall whatever they are.

See you at the French Country Cottage
 Feathered Nest Friday linking party.
I hope.
It's my first try at linking parties.
Hope I follow all the rules!

Fragrant Pink Roses Remind Me of France

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just inside the local grocery store is a new display for fresh flowers. 
Sometimes I buy blue hydrangeas, but
this week there was a special on roses...

Could not resist.....

Reminded me of France...

Fresh flowers...   fragrant fresh roses...

Fragrant, citrus-y scent...

Kept smelling them up close on the kitchen counter as I passed by...

I decided they are too beautiful to die after a week...

That's when I decided to try to dry them.

Trying to hold onto their beauty...

To hold onto to this feeling of being in France...

Will the fragrance linger also?

Keep you eyes open at the grocery store.
An everyday event could sweep you away into a fragrant reminder of France.

Texans Are More French Than Texans Realize

Saturday, September 22, 2012

While traveling this week from the Dallas, Texas metroplex to the Houston area, I discovered Texas provides free wireless Internet service at its rest stops along Interstate 45.  After getting back home, I then discovered Texas was the first state to provide wireless Internet access at Safety Rest Areas throughout the state.

Texas map on the state's transportation website shows the location of rest stops all over Texas.  The map also indicates which rest areas are new and which ones are scheduled for renovation.

Wi-Fi is not the only thing I discovered at the 
                                Texas Safety Rest Areas.

Wif-Fi is a nod to the present and future culture of Texas and the world, 
but each rest stop is designed also with an artistic nod to each locale's history. 
Seeing them from the highway made me want to stop. 

 Not only are the styles of the exterior architecture different for each one, 
the displays inside uniquely showcase that rest stop's region of the state. 

The grounds have picnic areas, playgrounds, walking trails, and sculptures.

The signs, bridges, and benches all have artistic designs linked to the region.

A small town named Buffalo is not far from this rest stop.

Wireless Internet sign
You can sit on a bench outside and
"stay connected" using the free Wi-Fi.

Love the design that evokes images of 
native wild flowers and grasses...

Seeing the Texas Safety Rest Areas
 reminds me of the joie de vivre enjoyed all over France.  

Yes, Texas and French details for joie de vivre are different, 
but the Texas rest stops indicate that 
Texans have a style and culture they celebrate 
in everyday life.  

Taking time to walk on a native plant trail, 
reading about the history of the region, 
enjoying sculptures designed for the area,
and sitting on an artistic bench 
while surfing the Internet at a rest stop, 
as a break from driving
all say, 

"Savor life to the fullest."

Is this not like France?
Marry cutting edge design with timeless appreciation for life...

Celebration time...

French Larkspur Blog gave away ten spots in
Creatively Made Home E-course.

Botanic Bleu won!

French Larkspur - Creatively Made Home
Use the link for details about the E-course and
 how you too can be part of Creatively Made Home.

I will be sharing my experiences on
Botanic Bleu Blog
Botanic Bleu Facebook
Botanic Bleu Pinterest

Until next time, watch for the Texas Safety Rest Areas, 
both along the Texas highways, and 
along the highways of life.

Blue Limoges Hine Cognac Stag Bottle

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nothing is more exciting than finding a rare treasure at a flea market in France.  The flea markets in Paris are well known and bring top euro / dollar for their items.  The most exciting thing I found in the French flea markets was in Carsac.  Carsac, France, in the Dordogne region, has about fourteen hundred residents and is over six hours away from Paris.  Yes, there are still real deals to be found in French flea markets.

Here's the story I promised in an earlier post.

The vintage blue Limoges commemorative X.O. Hine Cognac stag bottle shown below was a real find.

As soon as I saw it, I was drawn to it.  Picked it up, knew I loved it, thought it made me think of Christmas, wondered if I could resell it, put it back down, walked away, came back, asked the price, walked away again.  Then I found another item I liked from the same dealer and made a deal for the two items.  The bottle was still sealed with a plastic seal around the gold top.  Inside you could hear liquid swishing as the bottle was shaken.  It contained the original cognac.

Back home, I placed it in the Country French Christmas sale last year.  Priced at $25, I wasn't sure anyone would buy it.  Didn't matter since I loved it so much...  Within an hour of opening our doors for the first time to sell things in Botanic Bleu, one of my long-time friends arrived and began selecting items to buy.  She has been to France and has French-inspired Christmas decorations in her home.  After I told her where I bought the little blue stag, she immediately decided it was going home with her.


A few days after that I decided to search online to see what I could find out about the meaning of X.O. Hine Cognac.  Oh, my!  What a surprise to find that Hine Cognac company commissioned Limoges china makers to make different commemorative bottles for them over several years.  Several bottles were listed on e-Bay for sale, including one just like the one I bought and sold.  Latest bid on e-Bay?  $399!  How thrilled I was to find that the little blue stag was a real treasure.  I called my friend to tell her what an amazing deal we both had made. 

Botanic Bleu doesn't have another little blue Limoges stag for sale this Christmas, but we do have a little blue Limoges Eiffel Tower from France. 

Yes, there are still true deals in French flea markets, best found in the rural areas.  I learned that I should research before I sell, not after.  

Have you found an amazing deal at a flea market, garage sale, or second-hand store?  Post a comment telling about it.

Until next time, keep your eyes open for real treasures in flea markets.  You never know what you may find.

Country French Christmas is Coming

Botanic Bleu
5105 Bennett Lawson Rd.
Mansfield, Texas

Carsac Brocante

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Have you dreamed of browsing a French flea market?  In September 2011, I had the perfect opportunity finally to go to French flea markets after 26 years of daydreams.  We arrived in Carsac, France very late on Saturday, September 17.  Within a couple of days we spotted the signs for the Carsac-Alliac Antiquité / Brocante on September 24-25.

"This is the real thing."  As my sister, Karen, and I entered the parking lot in Carsac filled with authentic architectural salvage, vintage bottles, rustic tools, French silver, antique musical instruments, second-hand furniture, and all kinds of small treasures, she uttered aloud what we were both thinking, "This is the real thing."  Standing in a drizzling rain, we were looking at a real French flea market where locals sold brocante (second-hand goods).  A pouring rain could not have kept us from spending all day there.

There were so many things I wanted to buy, but did not have a way to get them home.  The blue 19th-century Belle Époque container with the spigot will always remain in my memory as the "one that got away."  The iron fireback with Diana, Goddess of Hunt, would be beautiful inset in a stone backsplash over an Aga stove.  

The blue metal gate would be stunning as a door to my third-floor loft area.  I can see the iron fire grate in my fireplace. Alas, only the Belle Époque urn would fit into my carry-on for the flight home.  One day, I will go back to France to flea markets and have a shipping container to collect my treasures.

I did buy three special items, two to sell in Botanic Bleu's first Country French Christmas and one as a birthday present for my sister.  Decision time.  Either I could pack the blue Belle Époque spigoted urn or a pink seltzer bottle for my sister in my carry-on for the flight home.  As I lugged the heavy pink seltzer bottle through the security check-point at the airport, I said to my traveling friend, "If only my sister knew how much I love her." Below is the beautiful pink French vintage seltzer bottle that Karen received for her birthday.  The metal squirting mechanism includes the word Paris.

Botanic Bleu has several small items from French flea markets, Paris shops, and the Paris Object Maison trade show for sale at this year's Country French Christmas sale.  While blue is my favorite color, I love the green glass tray below that came from the Carsac brocante.  The bottom is diamond-cut with the word France in raised letters.  Can't you just see it holding special soaps in a guest bathroom at Christmas?

Another day, I will tell the story about the beautiful blue Limoges stag cognac bottle that I bought here at the Carsac brocante and sold to a friend during Botanic Bleu's first Country French Christmas sale in 2011.

One of the blogs I like is French Larkspur.  They are giving away spots in an e-course, Creatively Made Home.  The deadline for registering for the give-away is midnight September 16, 2012.  Use the link to French Larkspur to see details.

Have you been to French flea markets or are you dreaming of going?  Post a comment telling about what you found or what your plans are.

Until next time, keep dreaming about French flea markets and arrange for a shipping container when you go.

Botanic Bleu Beginnings

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My maternal grandmother had flower gardens both around her house and in her vegetable garden in north Alabama.  I can never remember a time when she did not have flowers.  Her flower gardens were modest, overshadowed by the vegetables and crop plants necessary for food and a living, but they were always well-maintained, grown from cuttings and seeds shared from family, friends, and neighbors.  I don't think she ever bought a flower seed or plant in her life.

My life has been blessed with flowers beginning with my grandmother, then with my mother, aunts, uncles, paternal grandfather, and now with my sister who is a professional florist.  My husband sent flowers for every birthday, Valentine's day, wedding anniversary, and other special times.  For years we planned for a garden shed so I could have flowers year round.

When I traveled to France each summer with students, the flower gardens, parks, garden houses, and verdant countryside of France always refreshed my spirit and renewed my desire for beautiful gardens and a garden house of my own.  The north Texas heat, cold, and lack of rain limit what I can grow. Budgets, energy, and time limit what I can build.  When I drew the first garden shed plans on graph paper, my family quickly dubbed it a "jardin chateau."  The shed is not really a chateau, but my traveling-to-France friend, Dewayna, said she laughs when I call it a shed.

February14, 2004 --- No garden shed, just an open area east of the deck at my house

Around 2007, we began building the "jardin chateau," and it stood incomplete for a few years.  The winter of 2009-2010 was particularly bitter with record snowfalls.  This is a view in February 2010 of the north and west sides of the partially completed shed that we used mainly for storing tools.

Below is a view of the east side of the shed in March 2010 with a gaping hole where I hoped a French-style "eyebrow" window would go.  I began to think about opening a home and garden shop with French-inspired gifts.

August 2011---Work was begun to complete the garden shed and to use it as a home and garden shop, Botanic Bleu.  I made travel arrangements and plans to attend the Paris Objet Maison trade show in September in Paris, France where I hoped to buy special things for the shop's Country French Christmas sale beginning mid-November 2011.  I also researched when and where French flea markets would be during my stay in Paris and the Dordogne region.  The photo shows sawhorses and building supplies in the yard in August 2011.

The following two photos were taken September 8, 2011, the morning I left for Paris.  No more gaping hole!  Window in, walls partially painted, angel wing storage cabinet installed, copper sink upside down on the counter...

November 14, 2011---The west deck and circular step were finished on Monday, November 14, before the shop was to open that Friday.

November 18 - December 27, 2011---A Country French Christmas sale that included new and vintage items from the Paris Maison Objet trade show, French flea markets, Deep South antique stores, and select wholesalers took place.  My friend, Dewayna, also sold her beautiful DBT Serendipity Glassworks stained glass and fused glass items in the shop.  We had a great time and were thrilled with the response we had from all of our friends who shopped with us.

May 2012---Here is a view of the west side of Botanic Bleu.  What began as a dream for a garden shed has evolved into a small business that combines my love of France and Christmas.  During the summer and fall of 2012, the search for French-inspired items is in full swing, getting ready for the second Country French Christmas event beginning in mid-November 2012.

August 2012---Plans are to finish the exterior with Texas white limestone and to install exterior lights.  A white limestone walkway leading from the deck is already begun.

Below is a French-inspired iron topiary for the garden that Botanic Bleu is offering in this year's Country French Christmas sale.

If you are in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas metroplex mid-November 'til Christmas, come to Botanic Bleu for some Christmas shopping.  You may find something special for someone you know who loves France also.

My grandmother would love to see her granddaughters carrying on the family tradition of gardening, but would be even prouder that we are carrying on the tradition of being strong Southern women.

Until next time, watch for beautiful garden buildings wherever you go.  Each one is someone's dream.