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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Hearts & Roses...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hearts and roses  
 are not only symbols of love and beauty,
they are symbols of hope and reassurance.

Deep within winter's gloomy skies,
blustery winds, and frozen temperatures,
hearts and roses lift us out of the dreariness
of winter's clutches and take us
into visions of love and beauty. 

The blowsy Redouté rose painted on the porcelain cup is 
as perfect as its true-life inspiration, 
the fresh rose stem with its rosy flower and rose-tinged buds.  

The greeting card depicting a cup filled with roses 
is also a true rendition of the real-life rose stem and buds. 
Where does the real flower end and 
the printed ones begin? 

A small bouquet of three stems is all the vase will hold. 
Oh, but that is enough when the stems are loaded with buds 
and perfect little blossoms. 

Could there be any more perfect bouquet to say, 

A rose-filled heart vase, a rose-covered cup, and a rose printed card 
chase away the winter doldrums. 

So much beauty and happiness in a single flower 
just when our spirits need it most. 

Whether the flower is real, in a vase, on a card, or on a cup, 
we feel the beauty and smile, 
happy in our hearts, 
happy in our imaginations.  

Hearts and roses 
midst winter throes  
promise days of summer will come again. 
Please join me at these inspiring sites...


French Croissants

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When thinking of eating in France, 
come to mind instantly. 

Rich, buttery, flaky, melt-in-mouth, 
fresh from the bakery 

Still warm from the oven... 
So rich, no extra butter is needed, 
but I still lavish more butter on mine. 

I've eaten croissants in lots of towns in France, 
in New Orleans, in Montreal, and 
in the French owned and run La Madeleine's bakery 
in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

By far, the best croissants are from France. 
Anywhere in France. 
In boulangeries or in patisseries
in restaurants, in hotel breakfast rooms,
from grocery stores, ...
So delicious and filling,
French breakfasts often are
a croissant, some Nutella spread, and
a hot chocolate or café au lait.
There is no comparison to authentic French croissants.

Until now... 

Where did we get those delectable croissants above?
The ones that practically fill a plate by themselves?
The golden flaky perfectly made and
perfectly tasting croissants?

A Christmas gift
that arrived in the mail...
Frozen croissants...
Yes, frozen. 
How could frozen croissants be good?

Take out however many you want to bake...
little, bitty frozen round mounds...
let them rise for 9 hours or overnight...
oh, my, how they rise into HUGE croissants...
bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes...
and out comes

Croissants worthy to be called croissants... 
Worthy to be fresh from ...gasp... France! 

So perfect! 
So flaky... crumbs everywhere! 
A true sign of an authentic croissant... 

Were these shipped from France?

From Williams and Sonoma. 
As seen in the Christmas catalog. 
Expensive? Yes. 
Worth every penny? 

I did not receive any compensation of 
any kind from Williams and Sonoma. 
They don't even know my blog exists, 
much less about this particular post. :)
Dear email subscribers, 
I have had problems with FeedBurner not 
publishing my posts. 
After many hours, days, and weeks, 
working on how to resolve the problems, 
I thought I had the problem fixed.
it is not.

Please accept my apologies for 
my posts not being delivered to your email. 
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Sunspace Garden...Ladder Envy

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Seeing old ladders used 
in creative ways makes me long for a ladder. 


If only I could find an old, weathered, 
paint-spattered wooden step ladder... 
to decorate with gardening treasures... 

Wait a minute... 

I have something already, 
even better.

A metal three-tiered shelf unit 
with scalloped edges on the shelves and
French fleur-de-lis finials 
has deeper shelves than a ladder. 

Slowly being transitioned from 
a Christmas look to a winter look... 

The white pointsettia will continue to flower until March. 

But, artificial snowdrops announce the end of winter is near. 

Birds of all kinds of feathers make their nests in a variety of ways. 
From glittery nests on bare stems.... 
To bleu ceramic planters... 

To small handmade wooden birdhouses... 

To small artificial branches under tendril-etched cloches. 

A silver bell white twiggy Christmas looking wreath surrounding a 
glass beehive 

Gives way to a triple birdhouse with a California license roof and 
three ceramic knobs as perches...

The birdhouse may be a mobile home for birds since 
it has traveled all around the house 
beginning with its creation. 

On another stop it was decorated for Christmas outside on the 
garden shed blue door. 

For now, the birdhouse presides over the small white bookshelf...

Filled with gardening tools, both vintage and new... 

And, with ivy topiaries waiting out winter, longing for outdoor spring weather instead. 
The little Noël stake lingers a little longer. 

Soon the heart-shaped topiary will instead wear little red decorations 
in honor of Valentine's Day. 

The preserved boxwood ball was spritzed with white paint 
to renew its look for winter after losing its freshness. 
(Should have been spritzed with WATER more often!)

The white bookshelf serves as a small winter 
sunspace garden 
very nicely. 

Near the metal shelf that has ladder envy and 
the breakfast table that held a little French Country Christmas 

Sits my newest little divided box that is decorated with a fleur-de-lis and 
waits for small treasures to fill its spaces. 

The French inspired metal shelf is perfect in the 
breakfast sunspace next to the winter garden-filled white shelf. 

Ladder envy be gone! 

No, I do not need a weathered wooden step ladder instead,  
Do I?
Please join me at these inspiring sites...


Greenery & Lights

Friday, January 10, 2014

are all words that describe 
greenery & lights  

are still up and about at my house 
the second week of January. 

Christmas is a magical time filled with promises 
of love, laughter, joy. 
Why does it have to disappear so quickly? 
Why can't we have the reminders for a little longer? 

I am not ready to see it go. 

I still like seeing the welcome to my house... 

The soft blur of lights surrounded by fresh greens... 

The beautiful little tree with its dark green branches, 
perfect shape, and just right single top stem 
looks so cheerful leaning against the wall. 

The holly tree and the mossy brick steps 
aren't ready to see the greenery go either. 

Bonjour, my friends, 
not au revoir, 
just a little while longer let's look at
the blue berries and the little green tree. 

Let's enjoy the 
little red ribbon holding the single 
red ornament 
just a few more days. 

tree that adorned the living room 
is gone from the living room. 

Sad to say, it doesn't look like its beautiful self 
that sat on the deck waiting to come inside. 
No, now it's dry, brittle, and ready 
to become mulch. 

the bright lights on the outdoor arbor are still cheery. 

So, let's keep the front entrance greenery and 
the cheery arbor lights a few more days 
to remind us of the 
love, laughter, and joy 
promised by 

French White Christmas 2013

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The twelve days of Christmas end January 6, 
and I am still creating new Christmas table settings. 

A White Christmas...part 2 
has a decidedly French flair. 

The white urn filled with fresh greenery and a single Sugar pinecone 
is the essence of understated French design. 

A vintage French carte postale pinned to an unframed 
white burlap canvas board with a simple gold-plated fleur-de-lis 
was created earlier this year. 
Detailed directions show how to create this using easily found supplies. 
Of course, you have to fly to Paris to get 
an authentic old carte postale from a flea market. 

More French inspiration... 
A black urn holds an unadorned fresh tree, 
and the white wicker planter holds live olive trees. 

Perhaps another little French-inspired design, a white crown, 
is just the thing to top the beautiful little tree. 

Tied onto the tree with a little white seam binding ribbon, 
the crown exudes simple French style. 

My wooden French designed chairs with the hand-carved floral 
pattern are not new, but are just now getting a new coat of white paint. 

As a work in progress, they will get more coats of paint, 
be distressed a little, and will get a wax finish. 
An upcoming post will show how they looked when I got them, 
show some of the steps of how I painted them, 
and then will show the finished product. 

The white table setting includes a Christmas present, 
a wood carved white picture frame. 

More hallmarks of Country French influences... 
Simple white plates with just a touch of a raised pattern 
along the rim are paired with beaded flatware 
adorned with a small fleur-de-lis. 

A simple setting with just a plate and flatware on a placemat... 
and a small gold Christmas tree place card holder. 

A small cluster of the place card holders are also part of the centerpiece. 

The French-inspired Christmas table includes a view of the 
garden shed with its French roofline and French doors. 

A simple beribboned Christmas decorated swag hangs above the table. 

Noël tops the small collection of white, silver, and gold ornaments. 

A boxwood wreath hangs from a scrolled door hanger by a 
French script fabric ribbon. 

A closer look reveals the ornate fleur-de-lis on the ribbon. 

I made the ribbon by tearing 2 1/2" wide strips from white cotton fabric.  
 Using fleur-de-lis and French script rubber stamps, I stamped the 
strips using an archival black ink. 

Before creating the French white Christmas look for the breakfast area, 
the boxwood had been hung using a blue striped ribbon. 

Is any French kitchen complete without a pet? 
There is a towel on the upholstered chair seat to help keep it clean 
when the cats lie on it. 

Look closely. 
That dark blob on one of the white chairs is my cat Indiana lying on it. 
You may have spotted a cat tail in an earlier photo. 
That's Callie, another one of my cats, checking out 
the French White Christmas breakfast area. 

She likes it.