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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

April Chirping Bird Table Setting

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring has definitely arrived!
Blue skies, light breezes, green grasses, warm weather,
chirping birds...

Time to throw open the shutters, to open the windows,
and to create a cheerful spring table setting...

These little white bird dishes bring spring right to the table.
Four different birds perched on the edges of 
detailed leafy white bowls look as though they are 
ready to burst into birdsong.

Tweet, tw-e-e-e-t, twe-ee-et, tw-eet...

This may be my favorite bird.
With his head tilted at an angle, he is so happy,
chirping away without a care... tw-e-e-e-t...

The little dishes are perfect for appetizers, salads, breads, or desserts.

Home Goods had these little dishes the past two weeks.

I had to go to two different stores to find enough to set the table
and still would like to have at least one more.

White dishes look so clean and bright, just like spring.
Paired with blue, the combination is unbeatable in cheerfulness.

Of course, new dishes call for new place mats. Of course.
After looking online and at several stores in the area,
I could not find place mats that I liked.

Then...  I found dark brown basket-weave-look round chargers 
that reminded me of picnic baskets or nests.

The brown did not quite go with the blue and white dishes 
and the table made from reclaimed vintage English pine.
Not fazed at all!  Blue paint (Valspar Navy 5) was the answer.

What do you think?  
Do you prefer the dark brown charger or the blue charger?

The small cocktail linen napkins with the blue hydrangea pattern
were a gift many years ago.

The blue and white toile paper card is a gift tag serving as a place card.
Just write the guest's name on the back or front.
Later the guest can use it as a bookmarker that
will bring memories of a spring luncheon with good friends.

Little by little, I am adding more and more white.
The beautiful white scalloped-edged plate is from Pier I,
part of this spring's new collection.

The coaster under the glass is also paper.
kitchen papers® sells packages of 50 blooms coasters 
with three different flowers in the set.  
My favorite one is the tulip just barely visible under the glass.

The butter dish and salt/pepper set are the same
pattern as the blue floral salad plate.

A hand-carved bird and other nature-themed items 
sit atop a lazy susan made from
a repurposed vintage Napa Valley wine barrel top.

An award-winning bird-carver from my hometown in Alabama
carved this incredibly life-like kildee. 
My brother and his wife gave it to me as a 
Christmas gift many years ago.

The blue-speckled bird eggs were a birthday gift this year 
from a friend who is a retired French teacher.  
I think the eggs are perfect in the flower vase tied
with the hand-stamped blue Paris ribbon 
that takes my mind back to good times with her. 

When we were teachers together 
we chaperoned her French students 
on trips to France for many summers.
That's when I fell in love with all things French!

I found the ribbon on Etsy this past winter
and had to buy it in several colors.

The preserved boxwood provides just the right touch of greenery
and will last many months.
My kind of watering.

Another recent HomeGoods find, the Honey Pot, was on the clearance aisle
and is right at home with the iron bee.

A large bird's nest with artificial hydrangeas has 
little blue eggs in it also.

The nest, the bird's eggs, and the flowers add 
even more spring to the table.

A pair of linen bird-print towels from Mary Lake-Thompson,
serve as a runner and complete the table setting
filled with chirping birds.

Tw-e-e-e-t, twe-eet, tw-e-ee-eeeet

"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her,
 still she sings away all the time, knowing she has wings."
Victor Hugo

The blue glasses are Jamestown Blue by Fostoria.
The blue floral salad plate, butter dish, and salt/pepper are Tea Roses by Nikko.
The flatware is Towle stainless steel with gold-colored beading.
The white scalloped-edge plates are Madeline by Pier I.
I did not receive any form of compensation from anyone.
Since I like to know pattern names and where items come from,
I included this for my readers who want to know also.
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Three Cats and a Fox

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Donna at Funky Junk Interiors
lost her precious kitty, Teddy, and
has dedicated this week's linky party in her memory
by having pets as the theme.

So, here is a little story about
Three Cats and a Fox
that live at my house in the country.

Like many people, I never intended to have a pet;
the pet adopted me and made me her person.

Calliope is her name in this life with me, and we call her Callie.
Here she is the first week she came to live with me.

The winter of 2010-2011 was especially bitter with record snowfalls
for north Texas.  One night when there was snow on the ground
and the temperature was forecast to plunge to 19 (F),
there sat this pitiful cat huddled on the top step just
outside the french doors.  She was looking in at us with those
sad eyes begging for a warm place to stay for the night.

In she a dry, warm living room.
 Out we went...into the black night with howling winds and snow, 
bundled in warm coats, gloves, and hats...
to buy cat food and cat litter.

Over the next 3-4 days, I put her out in the morning
thinking she would go home.
Surely she had a home.
Each evening at dusk, there she sat on the deck looking in.

She won over our hearts as we realized she had no home.
I became her person.

Over the next few weeks she gained weight.
Naively, I thought it was because she was getting regular meals.
You know the real reason...pregnant!

Here is the sweet little mother with her 
five brand new kittens on the day they were born.
Three sweet little kittens found new homes rather quickly,
but two little ones never did find a new home.

First, no cat; then one cat; now three cats.

Indiana is an adventuresome male.

Gracie is a shy, scaredy-cat female who loves to cuddle with me, but no one else.

One lazy, nothing-to-do day last summer, the cats were lounging outside.
Indiana slinking through the grass, stalking grasshoppers, lizards, and Gracie.

Callie was snuggled on the chair on the south deck.

Along came a newcomer, a FOX!

Around the corner and onto the deck on the east side...

The fox, standing on its hind legs, peered into the living room 
through the french doors.
Oh, my! What a brazen fox.  Shouldn't it be running away?

A baby of three babies under the east deck... 
That's why this fox was so brazen.  She was protecting her litter.

Indiana's interest was piqued.  He saw the fox.

Gracie stood up, gazed in a frozen stance so much like big cats in the wild.
Indiana went to investigate.

Callie had moved to the Adirondack chair for a closer look.
But now... she was staring up at the big tree.  Why?

Indiana got too close to the momma fox and baby fox.
Momma fox chased Indiana and he ran for dear life...

Up the closest tree...with momma fox climbing up also,
until Indiana was too far away for her to reach.  Indiana kept climbing
and jumped onto the top of the house from a tree limb.
He sat on the very top peak (30 feet high) for hours.

After searching all along the roof edges for a way down,
he finally jumped to the lower roof of the breezeway, then
jumped down to the ground.

Last summer the three baby foxes grew up and moved on.
But this week, a fox was in the flowerbeds on the hillside above the house.
Is it the momma fox, one of the baby foxes, or a new fox in the neighborhood?

So far, no chasing Indiana up a tree.

Callie is content showing up in photos intended for the blog.

But...Indiana is another story...

He knows how to open doors with lever handles.
We have to keep the deadbolts turned on to keep Mr. Smarty Cat (Pants)
from "breaking out" the other cats.

Indiana's whole name is
Indiana Jones
because he was the most adventuresome of the five kittens.
The first one to climb out of the box, the first to jump onto the
washing machine, the first to venture into another room, ...
Little did I know when I named him how
prophetic his name would be! 

I contacted the Texas Department of Wildlife about the wild foxes under my deck.
Since foxes are a protected species in Texas, I was advised to leave 
them alone and let them stay until they moved on.
I know... foxes carry rabies...
I kept the cats in the house until the fox babies grew up and left.

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Exquisite Birthday Party

Monday, April 22, 2013

An exquisite 
Birthday Party
Pour moi
(for me)
given by my sister!

My creative, generous, talented, loving sister
gave me a belated birthday luncheon on Easter Sunday.
She went all out...

This special, just-for-me cupcake was chocolate with strawberry jam inside. 
The fresh mint and blue muscari flower made my heart sing.

Fresh flowers

Perfectly color coordinated with the cake, presents, dishes...

Place cards with menu

Gourmet food
Appetizer course

Too beautiful to eat, but we did!

The other courses were delicious, also.
Beef bourgignon, green beans, rosemary roasted potatoes
Spring salad with goat's cheese and pears
Chocolate cake with strawberry sorbet served in chocolate wafer shells

A shadowbox was a present, filled with other presents...
Love those straws!

Each gift was wrapped in such a special way.

Specialty chocolate Easter eggs...

A gorgeous shopping bag tied with a peach ribbon...

Such an exquisite bird on scrapbook paper...
My sister knows me...paper is one of my passions...

Exquisite wrapping paper with an elegant sealed wax fleur de lis...

Fleur de lis sealed feather and ribbons adorn a beautiful package.

Such an elegant party with good friends...
A belated birthday celebration to recall forever...

Sisters by chance,
Friends by choice
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Sweet Magnolias Farm has a great Give-Away in progress until
April 27, 2013.
In honor of Ball canning jars' 100th anniversary,
Sweet Magnolias Farm is giving away 
6 sets of 6 commemorative canning jars.