Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Hydrangeas

Friday, August 30, 2013

French Hydrangeas 
What makes a hydrangea a French hydrangea?

Hydrangea macrophylla plants are native to Japan,
and when the plants were introduced to the Americas and Europe
in 1789, they became commonly known as French hydrangeas.

Do you suppose there is a connection to the
French Revolution occurring in 1789?

Hydrangeas were a widely-used garden plant 
until the 1900s when their popularity waned. 
Why, I don't know.  
I love hydrangeas! 

My heart is happy that they are popular once again. 

These gigantic blooms were in the local grocery store this week. 
Four came home with me, and
I have adopted them as part of the family. 
I am trying to dry them and hope they retain their colors. 

Obviously, these were grown someplace beside Texas 
since these blooms look decidedly like Fall, 
and it was over 100° here today. 
And predicted highs are 104°, 102°, 102°... 
Definitely not Fall in Texas, yet. 
Not even close... 
Won't be Fall for another two months... 

 As these dry, the veins in the petals become more pronounced. 
Just breathtaking! 

Recently, I discovered a whole collection of hydrangea-designed 
home decor items. 

Be still my heart! 

Art imitates life. 

Surrounding my old butter churn filled with the 
real drying hydrangea blooms are the hydrangea-designed 
paper plates, bridge card set, scented candle with keepsake box, 
matches, soap dish, large wooden tray, and kitchen cotton towel. 

Now I can enjoy looking at hydrangeas all the time. 
Even in the dead of winter... 

The decorated pieces mimic the beauty of the real thing. 

The kitchen towel has multiple colors of hydrangeas. 
The colors in the real hydrangeas vary from bloom to bloom, 
and even within the individual petals on each bloom 
the colors vary.  

Blues, lavenders, mauves, yellows, pinks, greens,... 
From soft pastels to dark jewel tones... 

The old butter churn was a find in a yard sale along a country highway 
in rural Tennessee forty-one years ago. 

We weren't looking for a yard sale as we traveled from north Alabama 
to Washington, D.C. 
No, the yard sale found us. 
But, my car has always known how to stop unexpectedly, 
brake for yard sales, turn around for flea markets...  
years before junking attracted mainstream America 
to the 127 Corridor Sale. 

Old French postcards from a Paris flea market 
(yes, the metro braked for flea markets in Paris) 
are right at home with the script-decorated 
French hydrangea items. 

Photos taken from different angles cause the colors to look differently. 

It is amazing how the entire photo has a different color cast 
based on the angle of the shot and the direction of the light source.  
From any angle, I love the hydrangeas. 

The watering can with the hydrangeas rings true.  
Hydrangeas require lots of water. 

Fingers crossed the real hydrangeas 
will retain their color and shape as they dry. 

Regardless, the beauty of the hydrangea-decorated 
items will last for years to come. 
Each time I look at them I will remember 
the real French hydrangeas that filled 
our house with their beauty. 
And, I will remember the joy of finding 
the old churn, used as a hydrangea vase,  
along a rural road in Tennessee 
during a happy road-trip. 
Full disclosure---
Botanic Bleu will sell hydrangea-decorated 
items in a Country French Christmas event 
beginning Nov. 30, 2013, in Mansfield, Tx.  
No compensation was provided 
by the manufacturer for this post or 
at any other time.
My blogiversary Give-Away is 
going on through Sept. 2, 2013. 
If you would like to win a ceramic message board, 
see how to enter at the link below.
Blogiversary Give-Away
Some lucky reader is going to win
the fleur-de-lis decorated board
just in time to write fall messages.

Hydrangeas and French Script

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hydrangeas, blue, and 
French Script ~ 
Three of my favorite things 

A mossy heart with a single dried hydrangea blossom on French script 

is perfect hanging from the tail of a white bird bottle.

The first moss heart with a dried hydrangea I made 
was sold in my Country French Christmas sale last year. 
That one had French script paper as its background. 
This one has blue French script stamped on white paper. 

The hanging ornament was made using 
a wooden disk from a craft store, 
a dried hydrangea blossom from my mother's yard, 
a French script rubber stamp, 
and sheet moss. 

After stamping the French script onto white paper,
I cut out two circles and used Mod Podge matt glue 
to attach them to the wooden disk. 

Since I am not handy with a drill, 
I used a nail to make a hanging hole in the disk. 

A pastry heart cutter was just the right size to use 
as a pattern to make the heart from sheet moss. 
Since Mod Podge glue dries clear, 
it was perfect to glue the mossy heart to the disk, 
and then to glue the dried hydrangea to the moss. 

The hardest part was painting a gold rim 
around the disk using a gold paint pen. 

This moss heart with a single dried hydrangea blossom 
from my mother's garden is not for sale. 

It is a reminder to me of things I love. 
Feel like you are experiencing  vu
This post was first published at 6:00 a.m. on August 25, 
but the content disappeared during the day sometime. 
Three comments were still visible, 
but no content.  

Has this happened to anyone else? 
What do you suppose I did? 
My blogiversary Give-Away is 
going on through Sept. 2, 2013. 
If you would like to win a ceramic message board, 
see how to enter at the link below.
This giveaway is over. 
Blogiversary Give-Away
Some lucky reader is going to win
the fleur-de-lis decorated board
just in time to write fall messages.

China - Everyday Scenes Seen on Vacation

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Travel ~ 
the great way to discover how much alike, 
yet different, we all are. 

The world is a book and those who do not travel 
read only one page. 
St. Augustine 

Mothers all over the world, including in 
prepare meals for their families using 
ingredients found in their home-grown vegetable gardens. 

With pots of bamboo in the background of this open air 
preparation table, 
Squash Blossom Soup 
was on the menu for supper that evening.

While Mom prepared dinner, 
her little girl was kept nearby and safe in a rustic, home-made playpen/stroller.  

Look at those adorable ruffles on her pants and sleeves! 

China has always been an exotic, far away place to me. 
A place on my great unwritten list of dream places to see. 

As is the case most often to places I travel, 
I did not even realize all the beauty 
to be seen.  

The Guilin, China area known for its unusual mountain formations 
rising above the Li River 
inspired the other-worldly hanging mountains landscape of Avatar. 

Bamboo rafts powered by pushing long poles into the riverbed 
transport both western tourists and 
Chinese people on vacation down the Li River.

We were sights to see for the Chinese who asked 
us everywhere to practice English with them and asked to have 
their pictures taken with us. 

Growing up during the Cold War, 
China was a foreboding, scary country 
to the western world. 

Yet, the Chinese people go about their daily lives 
doing all the things we do, 
just differently

Transporting goods within the Imperial Palace grounds 
is like moving materials between buildings where we work...  
Just in a more beautiful setting with an older mode of transportation. 

Finding a parking place for her vehicle as she arrives at her workplace... 

Working with a water buffalo is somewhat like working with 
a reluctant co-worker who sometimes needs to be cajoled into doing his part. 

Baskets are used world-wide.  For what these two are used is not clear to me, 
but it is not always clear for what purpose baskets serve in my house. 
They just look good in the room. 
These two look absolutely fantastic on the river bank. 

Everything needs sweeping now and then. 

This is a serious broom that needs a police cone to warn others it's in use. 
Yes, I have seen cones in our country warning others of road equipment in use and
 warning of workers on the road. 

Hard at work, cleaning the highway. 
Highway crews clean our streets with shovels when they finish a job. 
Hmmm...does anyone clean our streets after that?

Farmers grow grain crops here at home. 
The Chinese grow rice in small family plots about three acres in size per family. 

A selection of work hats found at the local street market...

Beautiful flowers for decorating Chinese homes...

Do you suppose the Chinese have a Trader Joe's? 
Or perhaps it would be called Trader Lee's? 

Beautiful flowers that inspire...  

Baskets of seed pods for sale at the local street market...
Maybe this is Trader Lee's place...

A beautiful sink in a hotel room was inspired by lotus plants. 

This was the water source for the mom making Squash Blossom Soup. 

Fighting traffic at the end of a long workday... 
We are all alike. 
 Living, loving, working, worshipping.
If the world is a book, perhaps there is only one page of content, 
with all the other pages translations of that page. 
Judith Stringham
My blogiversary Give-Away is 
going on through Sept. 2, 2013. 
If you would like to win a ceramic message board, 
see how to enter at the link below.
Blogiversary Give-Away
Some lucky reader is going to win
the fleur-de-lis decorated board
just in time to write fall messages.

First Blog Anniversary Give-Away

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Texas, the new school year begins in August. 
After 37 years in education, 
each August feels like the start of a new year,  
new beginnings.

Is this phrase redundant? Hmmm...
Beginnings ARE new.

A new beginning (I'm going with the phrase)
is what happened last August 26. 
I wrote my first blog post,
French Tarte aux Fraise
(French Strawberry Tart).

is it a word yet?
Blog + anniversary
Recognized in the official dictionary yet? 
Not on my computer's dictionary, YET. 

Is blog a word yet?  Recognized in the official dictionary? 
Yes.  At least it is in my computer's dictionary.
BLOG ~ shortening of weblog 
(ha ha ha...web log becomes we blog)
origin 1990s
blog |bläg|nounpersonal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
I do record opinions, but I love recording photos more.
Some of my favorite photos are 
Doors in Sarlat, France
Pink Fragrant Roses
Botanic Bleu's first French Country Christmas sale photo
Your favorite posts with photos are listed below with the
number of page views for these most popular posts.
Stats below are from Google Dashboard.

I write a small blog, but the number of readers is increasing.
The graph below charts the number of pageviews per month. 

Thank you for reading me. 

Yes, I look at the stats for my blog, and I regularly visit other blogs.


What I keep reminding myself is that I write my blog for myself.
I love having readers, but the pictures and stories are really ways
of expressing myself now that I no longer work outside the home.
Writing a blog is a way to fill that desire to be creative and
to chronicle little snippets of my life.

Another BUT...

To be honest, it does make me feel good when someone leaves a nice
comment, a post is featured, new people follow, and/or
my pageviews increase,
when I make a new friend.

Thank you to my readers, 
thank you to everyone who leaves a comment, 
(they make my day brighter every time)
thank you to linky party hosts,  
and a big, Texas-size, 
thank you 
to my followers and new friends. 

A blogiversary deserves a gift...
not for me, but for YOU!


Would you like to win a white ceramic message board with a fleur-de-lis on it?
Great for writing menus, but also for greetings.
Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, Merry Christmas, 
Joyeux Noël, Good Luck at Bridge

YES, you say? Then ... 

Do one, two, or all, of the following. 
Remember to leave a new comment for each entry. :)
  1. Leave a COMMENT on this post telling me you are a Botanic Bleu blog follower by Google Friend Connect or bloglovin' and say you would like to win the ceramic menu board.
  2. Share the Give Away photo AND a link back to this post on your blog, Facebook, or Pinterest board.  Leave a new comment on this post to let me know and for you to have another chance at winning.
  3. Become a FOLLOWER of the Botanic Bleu blog by Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know you are a new GFC follower.
  4. Become a FOLLOWER of the Botanic Bleu blog by bloglovin' and leave a comment letting me know you are a new bloglovin' follower.
  5. Become a Botanic Bleu FACEBOOK follower and leave a comment on this blog post letting me know you are a Facebook follower.
  6. Become a Botanic Bleu PINTEREST follower and leave a comment on this blog post letting me know you are a Pinterest follower.
  7. Be sure to leave a new comment each time you enter to win. If you list everything you did to enter all on the same comment, you will only have ONE entry.  Each comment is an ENTRY.
  8. Entries close at midnight, Central Daylight Time, September 2, 2013, Labor Day.
  9. The winner will be selected at random and notified on the Botanic Bleu post published on  September 5, 2013, and by email, if possible. 
Whew!  That is a lot of information.
Good luck to you, 
my blogging friends.

The winner is 
Lisa @
Life Away From the Office Chair
No one gave me compensation of any kind for this Give Away. 
I love my ceramic fleur-de-lis board and 
think you may love one, too.

Please join me at these inspiring sites...