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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Winter Fresh Look

Monday, January 5, 2015

After removing my Christmas decorations, 
the house looks bare, but in a good way, with a 

Winter fresh look 

The ivy topiary trees are still in the kitchen, but are left bare, 
adding fresh greenery during the dark winter days 
before early bulbs bloom. 

Keeping ivies alive, healthy, and FRESH indoors takes some extra-loving care. 
Be sure to wash the container to eliminate pests and disease before repotting. 
Water regularly, but only when the soil begins to dry. 
Periodically, about once a week, wash the plant with sudsy water 
to get rid of spider mites, the number one pest for ivies. 
Provide bright light, preferably natural sunlight. 

My kitchen sunspace provides lots of light to the kitchen even on overcast days. 
A few touches of Christmas do still remain here, but a comfy upholstered chair 
sits where the Christmas tree stood during December. 

This is the fabric pattern that was also on the breakfast chairs before 
they were reupholstered last year. 

Another Winter fresh look.... paperwhites.

The paperwhite narcissi planted in early December have finished blooming 
and have been replaced with a freshly planted white pot of more paperwhites. 
Paperwhite bulbs can be planted any time October through mid-February. 

A small ivy planted in an old canning jar sits on an improvised "table". 
A large clear round platter sits on top of a tall blue and white pottery crock. 
The platter is large enough and stable enough to hold a small drink 
when I am sitting in the comfy chair. 

TIP for keeping surfaces under plant pots FRESH ~ 
Look for clear pie plates, microwave turntables, and small dessert plates 
at Goodwill, thrift stores, and garage sales. 
The large platters and microwave turntables are large enough to place 
under large plant pots to prevent water damage to floors and furniture. 
Pie plates fit medium pots, and small dessert plates fit small pots. 
Since they are clear glass, they are barely noticeable. 
Look back at the previous photo of the paperwhites in the white planter. 
There is a clear pie plate under the white clay planter 
to protect the rush seat of the highchair. 

The Christmas dishes are put away, and blue and white plates add 
to the Winter fresh look.  

Perfect for a salad, a dessert, or a sandwich, 
the four different patterns include French fleur de lis, 
birds, flowers, and scrolls, 
chasing away the Winter blues with their blues. 

I keep changing my mind about which one is my favorite. 
Which one is your favorite? 

Replacing my Jenn-Air cooktop old electric eye cartridge and grill 
with new plug-in electric cartridges is the best Winter fresh look. 
The old units were about twenty-five years old and still cooked, 
but the large electric eye was literally falling apart with 
metal pieces coming off.  

This is how the old cartridges looked. 
The grill still works great, but has only been used 
fewer than five times in twenty-five years and is  
way past time for a fresh replacement
with burners that actually will be used.  

My Jenn-Air cooktop has a downdraft vent with a wooden cutting board cover.   
At first, I thought I should replace the entire unit with a new ceramic smooth top, 
but after extensive research for a new ceramic smooth top with a downdraft vent, 
I decided to keep the old Jenn-Air cooktop and buy electric replacement 
cartridges for both the old electric eye cartridge and grill cartridge. 
I bought them online, and they arrived in about a week. 
The hardest part of installing the new cartridges was cleaning 
the existing old large drip pan under each old cartridge, but it  
sure was easier than installing a whole new cooktop. 

So excited to finally have four burners... 
Yes, this is the best 
Winter fresh look. 

I am still using my duck-shaped cutting board on the left side 
of the cooktop when all four burners are not needed. 
Look how happy he is with the new burners. 

Right now the cutting board holds 
Winter fresh looks that will last for the next couple of months. 

Have you put away Christmas and 
added some Winter fresh looks to your home? 

Please join me at these inspiring sites...




  1. So beautiful! Your home just amazes me, Judith. You are my close by Texas neighbor but your home as an English French Country look that I just love!! Thanks for the indoor ivy tips. I love love love topiaries but can never keep them alive. Must try again. :)

    Happy New Year!

  2. Very pretty. I actually like the 'clean' look after putting all the Christmas decorations away. :)
    Have a lovely day, Judith.

  3. Judith,
    Love your plates, gorgeous! I'm in agreement with Lin about enjoying "the clean" look after Christmas decorations are put away. All my potted living trees are still out, but I left them all unadorned for the season. I am so appreciating the breathing room of spareness by not returning everything back to its place that had been moved for the Christmas things. During the holidays homes can become so cluttered ... January is a month to allow the eyes a breath of fresh air. Your house has this feeling, you have mastered it. Your ideas are greatly appreciated and thank you for all this posts plant tips.

  4. dear judith, such beautiful pictures !!! love all of angie from Germany

  5. Judith, it does look fresh and inviting. I love your room with the wall of windows and the sun flooding in. Wish we had more natural light in our dining room. Your tips about plant saucers are great. I'll look for microwave turntables. Never thought about them. Perfect!
    My paper whites are already blooming, but I planted them in a pot outdoors. I already have larkspur coming up too. Mother Nature is fooling things again. '-)

  6. such beautiful picture!!!! I WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR
    bisous de la France

  7. JUST GORGEOUS. Judith, after taking down all of my Christmas decorations (except the little tree in the corner of the great room), I feel the exact sentiment you share here: WINTER FRESH. I love this cool, white emptiness for some makes me happy.

    I woke up at 4:30AM and saw the clear full moon in the sky. It was casting a brilliant blue light in our snow-laden garden and in turn, casting an eery but gorgeous shadow of our naked tree. I sensed a rush of joy.

    Simplicity gives me room to think. I am learning something fantastic I age. The less around me, the more in me. For starters, my home is now decorated in white shed antlers, bleached white manzanita branches in antique wooden bowls, and in the older part of the house, white sea shells and coral are strewn on gold tables or in silver bowls. All so crisp and clean, ready and sitting there voiceless, so I can hear my voice.

    Your home looks ready to greet your imagination. Go for it. Write.

    Have an awesome day. Anita

  8. Love your fresh new look after Christmas and the Jenn Aire is perfect. Great use of the cutting boards too.

  9. Beautiful! I love your bright and sunny kitchen.

  10. Your ivies all looks great and so healthy, Judith! I've been thinking of getting some ivy and doing topiaries again. I had a couple at our old house in NY and did a round and heart shaped one. I haven't had much luck with live plants here in Ohio, but I'm always optimistic!

  11. Your home looks sooo pretty! Love all the greenery!

  12. ahhhhhhh, it all looks beautiful!!! My fav plate is the one with the birdie of course :^)
    I have some ivy rooting to do a topiary, but couldn't decide what shape. After seeing yours, I think I will just do a "tree" shape. The ivy will thank you for getting it out of the water and into a pot!
    If I can find paperwhite bulbs, I will plant those as well...
    See how much good a little encouragement does!! You are great!
    Blessings to you,

  13. Very nice. Love the duck cutting board. Your blue plates are to pretty to pick favorites. I would LOVE to have 2 more burners but my old jenn-air is half grill and the grill half - well let's just say I'll be looking for a nice cutting board - thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Happy New Year Judith! What a wonderful fresh look to your home - love the idea of growing more paperwhite narcissi after the new year. You are putting me in the mood to really clean and take down my Christmas decorations. Have a great week!

  15. Dearest Judith, how touched I am by the outpouring of kind people who have left me a comment, emailed or even called. I am truly touched. The good thing is that I will NOT delete my blog, I will still visit you all regularly, and as I spend more time on my private writing goals, I hope to at least grow in my writing, a very important goal of mine.

    Wishing you so much love and peace. I WILL BE BACK! Anita


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