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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

The Blue Hour December

Friday, December 30, 2016

Because of its beauty that makes time stop for an instant, the expression l'heure bleue has come to describe a variety of special times and events, not just a description of a special blue glow at dusk. Each month in 2016, I shared a collage of blue images that create a little l'heure bleue for me.

The December Blue Hour collage is the last of the series. I hope you have enjoyed seeing them as much as I enjoyed creating them. 


l'heure bleue en décembre
The Blue Hour in December 




P.S. You did not miss the November Blue Hour. 
There was not one. 
Yes, I have photos, just not in a published post. :( 



Sometimes life happens, and at this stage in life, I've learned to move on.




So much could be said about each photo in the Christmas tree collage. You know that I am never at a loss for words or a story... told along the same way as Rose in Golden Girls

HOWEVER, 

Just one photo, the tree trunk, gets its stories told today. You can pick out your favorite photo in the collage and create your own story to go with it... or remember a story I've told about it before. If you want, you can share your story in the comments section. 




Notice the letters N and L look backwards? The letters are vintage wooden typesetter letters from the largest flea market in Paris, France. Some say the largest flea market in the world. 

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

How could I leave the blue ink-stained letters behind once I saw them? 

Blue... Letters... Paris... Vintage... THE Flea Market... 

I only bought the N, E, and L knowing that I would have many options to use something else in the place of the O... boxwood wreath, grapevine wreath, globe, Christmas ornament... 

The blue mercury glass heart was a gift from sweet blogging friend, Laura of Decor to Adore, when she came to my French Country Christmas Event to shop. Now, who else do you know brings a present for the person holding a sale? Yes, dear sweet blogging friend, Laura, who welcomes Texas bloggers into her home for cookie exchanges, comes bearing a gift. 

I just knew I didn't need to buy an O letter. 
Laura must have known. 

📮
Thank you for reading Botanic Bleu. Blogging has opened the door to so many new friendships, most of which are virtual friendships nurtured online via comments and emails. 

However, I have also met blogging friends in person... Anita of Cedar Hill Farmhouse, KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms, Marian of Miss Mustard Seed, Benita of Chasing Quaintness... 

And a whole slew of north Texas bloggers... 

Stacey of Poofing the Pillows
Jemma of At  Home With Jemma
Laura of Decor to Adore
Katie of Let's Add Sprinkles
Eilis of My Heart Lives Here
Carole of Garden Up Green
Julie of Lilacs and Longhorns
Lisa of Hospitable Pursuits
Carol of Bluesky Kitchen

I know there were more at our irregular gatherings. Please list your name and blog in the comments below if I left your name off the list. I will think of more names at two in the morning, I'm sure. 

Here's to 2017, new friends, continued friendships, new blogging series, new adventures.... 

Streets of Paris 
is a new series coming in 2017. 


Looking forward to all your latest photos from Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and your Blog at 

Monday Social
live each Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

SUNDAY
Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined

MONDAY

TUESDAY

Christmas Angel Table

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This year's Christmas Day table setting had been in my mind for several months beginning with the sale of my late mother's house in Alabama. Mother loved angels. She had a set of four angel salad plates she displayed year-round in her china cabinet. When and how she acquired those plates are vague in my memory. I think I gave them to her many years ago. They are part of Mother's things that I kept when we settled her estate.  




The four angel salad plates were the start of this year's Christmas Angel Table. 

Christmas Kitchen In Blue and White

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day finds most kitchens filled with good food, laughter, and love. Our beef in the slow cooker (thank you, Yvonne of StoneGable, for the recipe) is ready, potatoes are boiling to make mashed potatoes, and fresh green beans are waiting for final preparation. 


A Christmas Cadeau

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas cadeau 

for myself. 



Can you guess what it is? 

Eiffel Tower Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 22, 2016


During the holidays everything seems to be going according to plans, then... out of left field (or the North Pole) comes another idea. One you had not planned. Or you think you had not planned. One that just happens. A magical Christmas moment. 

An Eiffel Tower Christmas Tree 




Could it be the tree has been in the wings for years, just waiting to fly? 

Christmas At The Magnolia Silos

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Need to buy a last-minute gift for Christmas? You are in north central Texas? Christmas at the Magnolia's Silos in Waco, Texas may have just the perfect gift. The second week of December I found several gifts (for others and for me.)




Just seeing the live Christmas trees set up in a covered outdoor stage at the Silos puts you into the Christmas spirit. This is before going inside Magnolia market and seeing all the Christmas inspired decorations and goods. 

Silos Baking Co Cupcakes

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Have you heard about the Silos Baking Co. in Waco, Texas? You know, the bakery that is part of Joanna and Chip Gaines Magnolia company? If you are a Fixer Upper fan, you probably know that Joanna L O V E S cupcakes, and her Silos Baking Co. sells her favorites. 




The second week in December, a small group of us traveled to Waco to see the Magnolia store all decked out in its Christmas finery for a little Christmas shopping. Waco is about 80 minutes south of my house, and a day trip is an easy drive with plenty of time for shopping before heading back home. 

Christmas White Poinsettias in the Living Room

Friday, December 16, 2016

White flowers are among my favorite winter flowers with which to decorate. White poinsettias, white paperwhites, and white amaryllis are all beautiful as part of Christmas decorations anywhere, but especially in the living room before the white stone fireplace. 



One thing I look at when choosing poinsettias is the center of the colored leaves where the actual flowers are located. The brightly colored leaves are modified leaves, and the tiny buds in the center are the real flowers. I choose plants in which the tiny center flowers are tightly closed in order for poinsettias to last longer. 

Just so you know, I refer to the modified colored leaves as blooms like most people. 

Home Office Christmas Decor

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Home offices and studies can be hard to give a little Christmas cheer. Work surfaces have to be kept clear for, well, working. Then there's the personality and style of the person who works in the office or study. Here are some tips for home office Christmas decor that keeps the work space clear and fits masculine personalities. 



Subtle small changes that do not add new items in the office, but that replace existing items is an easy way to add a little Christmas to a work space. A lamp finial can be switched from a standard version to a holiday version. Lighting stores and hardware stores often have speciality finials. 

French White Christmas Tree Mantel

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas house tours are some of my favorite things to view during the holidays each year. I love seeing how others dress their homes in special ways, and I often am inspired to incorporate some of the decorating tips into my own holiday arrangements. The holidays are a great time to find some new ideas. 

However, even though I love Christmas decorating inspired by house tours, I also stay true to my own personal style for Christmas decorations. I don't completely introduce a whole new look or style in my house. Most of us do not have the resources in money or time to completely renovate our houses for the holidays. 



Here's how I incorporate Christmas decorations in my French-inspired garden and home, starting with a French white Christmas tree mantel. 




French Country Christmas Market

Saturday, December 10, 2016


What is for sale in the sixth annual French Country Christmas Market? 

Each year I get excited about all the beautiful, fun things I find for the Christmas Market Event in the garden shed behind my house, and want to share them with you who read Botanic Bleu, but cannot attend the Christmas sale. 

Plus, those who will be able to come on December 10 or 17, the following will give you an idea of what's in the shop and where it is located. 



When you enter the garden house shop, here is the overview of what you see. Pretty overwhelming until you take a look at each section by itself. 

So, we are going to take a tour of the shop by the way the shop is laid out.




The table in the center of the room always sets the overall look each Christmas. This year it is all about red and white which was determined by the gorgeous Michel Design pattern called Snowy Night. The red and white runner on the table is actually two kitchen cotton towels in the Snowy Night pattern placed end to end. 

The large French-style pot is one of three sizes available. Watch for this pot in different places around the shop. 

The hand-carved wooden Russian Santas were found this September at the Maison Objet Paris International Trade Show. Each year I try to find at least one very special item to offer that takes center stage on the table. Two of the four Santas are signed by the artist who carved and hand-painted them. 




The second very special item this year is the hanging white metal candelabra. Red and natural French script fabric ribbon suspends the candelabra above the table in the middle of the room. 





The candelabra is versatile. A base comes with it that allows the candelabra to sit on a table as another way to use the candelabra. Perfect for using on outside tables that do not have a place to hang a candelabra. I love hanging it which allows glittery snowflake ornaments to dangle from it. 




On the table, a white deer bowl that can be used for soup, candy, or as a counter catch-all for keys holds a box of matches in the Snowy White design. 




The fourth hand-carved wooden Russian Santa sits between a white glass swirl tree and a red-framed Merry Christmas tree print. Love those touches of blue in the Santa... 




The Snowy White collection has so many beautiful things in it. Lotion, long-burning soy candles, and paper coasters in a decorator tin sit on a cotton kitchen towel. The matches have green heads to complement the red and white box design. The candle comes in a decorator keepsake box, too. 

The little white glitter trees are natural wood with rustic wood trunks for their bases. 




Script papier mâché ornaments come in two sizes and two styles, hearts and stars. I call the script French, but I am not sure if it really is. Does not matter to me. These look wonderful with fresh greenery and add a little French inspiration. 




Vintage silverplate fork handles are elegant key rings and make beautiful stocking stuffers. 




I buy lots of nice generic ribbons at discount stores for wrapping packages, but watch for speciality ribbons to offer in the French Country Christmas Event each Christmas. 

  1. Brown fabric deer make an unusual napkin ring.
  2. Ivory and red fabric reindeer ribbons have a tiny bells that actually ring. They are perfect for gift package decorations, tree ornaments, and for decorating napkins, table runners and pillows. 
  3. Red fabric cut-out ribbon has two French-style patterns that can be used in the same ways as the reindeer ribbons. The red and natural canvas French-script ribbon is strong enough to hold the hanging candelabra. Wouldn't it be beautiful as a garland on a Christmas tree? 



White-washed wooden snowflake and angel ornaments come in two sizes. Trucks carrying Christmas trees are all across the internet from vintage toys as table decor, painted ones on pillow covers, and art prints. When I found these adorable white glass trucks with campers carrying white bottle brush trees, I did not have to think twice about ordering them for the garden shed shop. 




Moving from the central table area is the real Fraiser fir tree in one of the large French-style ceramic pots as a tree holder. 




On the wall next to the live tree is a rustic towel holder made from an old broom handle, an oak dowel, and weathered redwood 2x3 boards. It holds towels from France. 




The top two rungs hold vintage French kitchen towels found at Paris flea markets this September. The 6" preserved boxwood wreaths make them look so Christmas-y. 




The red and white towel with the upside down fleur de lis has an image of Chateau Chenonceau. Found at Chenonceau this fall, the towel is new. 

Wooden deer clips with glittered antlers and hooves hold the hand-painted golden NOEL banner. 




My grandmother's buffet that sits in front of the second set of French doors holds fresh paperwhites on one end. Small and medium sized French-style ceramic pots hold 3-4 bulbs each. 




The other end of the buffet holds a faux Christmas tree laden with white ceramic deer and hand-carved bird ornaments. A smattering of small grapevine wreaths and ivory fabric deer ribbons also decorate the tree that is good for a masculine area such as a home office or a teen-aged boy's room. 




The counter on the back wall is for kitchen linens and accessories. Kitchen towels, pot holders, and oven mitts are available in a variety of designs that coordinate with bottles of foaming soap, paper plates, paper placemats, paper napkins, and sets of resin coasters. 




Linens around the shop include...
  1. Michel Design 20"x28" kitchen towel designs 
  2. French vintage and new linen kitchen towels 
  3. Mary Lake Thompson western-design linen towels
  4. Three to four patterns of Michel Design towels 



Foaming soaps, paper coasters, and paper placemats coordinate with the Michel Design towels making it easy to give a small gift or a larger gift by including several coordinating items in a gift basket.




The wall above the foam soaps displays two vintage French prints from an 1846 French book. The prints came from a Paris brocante on Rue Cler this fall.




The other end of the sink counter holds a collection of French-designed items, including the large table lamp.




A French-style medieval angel glass plate is one of my favorite decorator Christmas plates.




Finally, the fourth wall holds an old pine table and hutch filled with a variety of dishes, candles, bubble bath, and small items like gift tags and Joyeux Noel imprinted pencils.




There is no way to show everything in the shop, but here are some close-ups of items.

  1. Glittered white wood trees and gold bird topped butter dish 
  2. Rustic handmade box with an old Texas truck license plate allowing the box to stand or to hang 
  3. A red metal North Pole Post mailbox filled with fresh Christmas greens to hang on a door as a fresh alternative to a wreath 
  4. White glass truck carrying a white bottle brush tree 
  5. White metal soap dish that sits or hangs... would be a cute chalk holder for a large chalk board 
  6. Script papier mâché hearts and stars 
  7. Wire bird cloche that could have Christmas cards or photos clipped to it 
  8. Small white or gold Santa holding a white bottle brush tree and wearing a fur-trimmed coat/hat 
  9. Map of the South East United States in Christmas colors... nice subtle Christmas decoration in a home office or study 



The garden shed shop is filled with Christmas inspiration. 

After Christmas some of these items will be available in my online Botanic Bleu Square shop. I will post when the online shop opens for orders. 

What is your favorite item in the shop?


Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

SUNDAY
Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined

MONDAY

TUESDAY

Five Favorite Christmas Snaps This Christmas

Friday, December 9, 2016





Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Christmas carols play on the car radio. Billboards proclaim peace on earth. Television commercials are filled with beautiful scenery and heart-warming messages instead of reasons to buy. Catalogs come in the mail with cover photos of red pick-up trucks with Christmas wreaths on the grills in a snowy scene. Red, white, and green everywhere. 

Oh, the most wonderful time of the year for beautiful images everywhere. Beautiful images inspire us to create beautiful scenes in our own homes as we listen to the latest Pentatonix album and bake snickerdoodle cookies for a cookie exchange. 

Here are five of my favorite small scenes created around my house this week. They may not become a television commercial or catalog cover, but they create some Christmas magic at my house. 

Easy Natural Christmas Outdoor Greenery

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Easy Natural 
Christmas Outdoor Greenery  

Outdoor Christmas decorations add a festive look to houses and allow everyone who sees them to feel a little joy of the season. With just two natural greenery elements, porches, walkways, fences, and doors take on a special aura that brightens everyone's spirits and adds a smile to their faces. 


Botanical Christmas Decor

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Botanical Christmas Decor

Looking for ways to add simple natural holiday decorations? Perhaps to a porch, sunroom, or garden house? Something that blends with your existing plants, but gives a Christmas feel to the space? With the addition of one or two traditional Christmas themes and traditional Christmas greenery, an everyday collection of botanicals becomes a holiday table top. 


White Christmas Holiday Table

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

White Christmas Holiday Table 


Being a teacher and then an school administrator meant that I always had a two-week vacation centered around Christmas. Since we lived away from both of our families, those two weeks made it possible for us either to go to see our families for several days or to have them come stay with us for several days. Christmas has always been a multi-day holiday which means several meals, not just one large holiday meal. 


Country Christmas Tree Memories

Monday, November 28, 2016


Country Christmas Tree Memories 

What one thing symbolizes Christmas in your house? Something that is always part of your Christmas celebration? Beginning with your earliest memories in childhood, what one thing has always been part of every Christmas in every house you have ever lived in? What is that one item that must be included before your house is truly ready to celebrate Christmas?   

For me, the answer is.... 

a Christmas tree. 


This fall, Carole of Garden Up Green asked some of us who live in the country to share something from our homes that reflects a country Christmas. Perhaps a recipe, a decorative display, something passed onto to us, or even what life in the country means to us. Whatever we selected should reflect a memory with sincere heart because country living is like no other, and at Christmas, country living is even better. 

Favorite Christmas Shop

Thursday, November 24, 2016


What is your favorite place to shop for Christmas?

My favorite kind of Christmas shop is a small store that has distinctive gifts not found in large department stores. As I approach the store, beautiful Christmas decorations greet me even before I open the door. Inside, the whole store is filled with Christmas, arranged in small vignettes with unusual ribbons, gift tags, ornaments, and things made from wood, glass, and fabric. There may be a handful of plastic things, but they are so well made I do not realize they are plastic/resin until close inspection. 

If there are blue Christmas things, or 
French-inspired items, 
I leave the store with bags and bags. 

What To Do With Paris Flea Market Forks

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Hunting for French vintage pieces in a Paris flea market is a great experience even if no treasures are found. If you have ever seen Paris After Midnight, you understand why. Strolling through small, winding streets filled with odd collections transports you to another era and to another lifestyle. Joie de vivre fills the air as you talk with French dealers offering inherited linens, odd pieces of flatware, figurines, bottles, anything and everything. 

Finding French vintage objects is more than the objects; finding French vintage items includes the entire joie de vivre experience of the Paris flea market. 

What do you do with vintage French flea market finds is a question that often comes to our minds when we find a special treasure. Here are five ways I have enjoyed using vintage French silver plate forks in my home. Number five is my favorite way for using a mismatched silver plate fork. 

Maybe one or more of the ways will also be just the idea that sparks how you can use a flea market find in your home. 



Puces d'Aligre, Paris, France 

Holiday Recipe Caramelized Pears

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday Recipe for Caramelized Pears



Food is always the center of any holiday celebration at our house and probably at your house, too. One of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving and Christmas is caramelized pears served with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. I discovered a recipe for caramelized pears from Williams and Sonoma about eight years ago, made a couple of changes to it, and now caramelized pears are part of our holiday traditions.