Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Christmas Sleigh Bell Tablesetting

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Christmas is the time to use all your beautiful things. No other time calls for your best and finest more than Christmas. No better time to polish the silver, to wash the crystal, and to create a special tablesetting. 

Christmas Rosemary Trees on Kitchen Island

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fresh greenery always makes me think of Christmas, and nothing smells more like Christmas than a live rosemary tree. Three of them on the kitchen island triples the fragrance of Christmas, the feeling of Christmas, and the look of French Country noël.


Creative Christmas Gift Wrap Ideas

Monday, December 18, 2017

Receiving a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift makes the present inside even better than just the contents alone. Pretty packages become part of the gift and say the giver put special thought and effort into the gift wrapping. Which tells the recipient she or he is thought of with love. The kind of love that says, "You are special." Special as a friend, or as a family member, or as the love of your life. 

And, when you have several friends you want to receive a little something at Christmas time, gift wrapping needs to be easy. These ideas are good for putting together gifts for 14 blogging friends, or for 12 book club members, or for 7 birthday group lifetime friends, or as party favors for 6 dinner guests. 

Creative Christmas Gift Wrap Ideas 

for the friends in your life.


Hanging Horizontal Boxwood Wreath

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Hanging Horizontal Wreath 

Step-by-Step Directions 

Christmas is the time for "hanging the greens," mistletoe, holly, ivy, evergreens. Traditionally businesses, homes, and churches now hang greens the first day of Advent, but the tradition has deeper roots in ancient Druid, Celt, Norse, and Roman cultures that celebrated the winter solstice which occurs around December 21.

If you love hanging greens in your home as part of your family's traditions and would like to hang a horizontal evergreen wreath, it is much easier than you may think. Here is a DIY step-by-step guide for how to hang a horizontal boxwood wreath.  

Christmas Guest Bath

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Little French, Jewels, and Snowflakes  

in the 

Christmas Guest Bath 

If you are looking for ways to add a little Christmas sparkle to a guest bath, take a peek at our guest bath decorated for Christmas company this year. Adding some crystal jewels and glitter are only the beginning ways for a guest bath to welcome guests during the most festive season of the year. 


Christmas Sparkle Greenery Throughout the House

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Are your Christmas decorations the same style as they were ten or twenty years ago? Or perhaps your decorations have changed like many other Americans' decorations. 

What better way to spot old and new traditions than with a Christmas blog tour! 

Today is the fourth day of a week long tour, Cozy at Christmas. Katie at Let's Add Sprinkles organized over twenty bloggers to share our homes for this Christmas. Thanks, Katie, for inviting me, and thanks to all of you for visiting. I think you will find some ideas to inspire your Christmas decorations this year.

December is such a busy time of the year, but the hustle and bustle of the holiday month always fills me with CHEER. Earlier this week several Texas bloggers gathered for lunch in McKinney, TX. We had a grand time laughing and catching up with the latest exciting news. There were a few secrets shared about upcoming events for some of the bloggers. I can't wait to see to their secret projects  revealed in the coming months.


Christmas Exterior Decorations Viewed From Inside

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christmas wreaths on iron driveway gates, front doors, and windows are beautiful to see as you drive by or attend a party at a friend's house during the holidays. I love seeing fresh garlands, Willamsburg-style fruit decorations, and lighted trees in yards. It IS a wonderful time of the year when houses are decorated on the outside.  

All of those beautiful exterior decorations are visible to people looking at houses from outside the house. What about looking FROM INSIDE the house? Can you see your exterior Christmas decorations when you are inside looking out? Chances are you cannot. 

This year, create some exterior Christmas decorations visible to everyone inside your house as they look out glass doors and windows. Every time you pass by the window or door, you can glimpse a little Christmas that will make your heart glad and experience a little French 

joie de vivre 

Live Christmas Tree Buying Tips

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

FIVE Tips for Buying Live Christmas Trees 

Fresh live Christmas trees usually go on sale in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex around the day after Thanksgiving. I was a little surprised and a lot excited to see live Fraser Fir trees for sale at the local Lowe's the Sunday BEFORE Thanksgiving. 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Then on Friday, find your perfect live Christmas tree. 


New Deck Features

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Plan to make a new deck special 

Replacing an old worn out deck gives every house a facelift. Adding small special features gives joie de vivre (joy of living)! With just a little planning on your part and a LOT of discussion with the deck builder, your basic new deck can have special SMALL design features that do not cost much. 

The keys are planning, discussion, and sketches for your ideas. 

Here's the story of rejuvenating the area out my back door and of building a new deck for the area. 

Maybe you will find a few ideas to spark design features for a new deck at your house. 


Christmas Potting Bench First Look

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A potting bench full of Christmas greenery makes a porch an inviting place during the holiday season. Friends and family love seeing touches of Christmas all through the house, inside and out. Paperwhites are favorite winter flowers that gardner's dream about for their greenhouses, conservatories, garden sheds, and potting benches. 

First Look at a Christmas Potting Bench 


Fall New Red Oak Tree

Friday, November 3, 2017

Funny how the mind works. How memory works. Some images are burned into my memory, lovingly cherished or sadly remembered. Then there are the memories easily supplanted with new ones to take their place.... 

A New Red Oak Tree 

has surprisingly made the thoughts of losing two big old oak trees easier to bear.  


DIY Polar Bear White Mohair Ornament

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Paper Series Post

Shh ... hhh ! 
Look away if you are not a do-it-yourself person, 

but DIY Christmas ornaments should be in progress NOW. 

At least gathering your ideas and your materials. 

Like for an adorable white mohair DIY polar bear ornament. 


Pop Up Home Business Wholesale Market Access

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wholesale Market Access  

Starting a Pop Up Home Business Series
Topic #2 

If you are turning your dreams of a home business into a reality, then Starting a Pop Up Home Business Series is a good resource for you. Knowing how to start a small business can be a challenge, especially for those of us who do not have a college degree in business. The good news is you don't have to have a business degree to start a small business. 

But you do need to research what to do. 

Pop Up Home Business Location

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Home Business Location  

Starting a Pop Up Home Business Series
Topic #1 - Location, Location, Location 

Have you ever... Thought about starting a small business you could run from your home? Are you... Daydreaming about styling beautiful displays filled with things you love? Would you... Offer vintage, antique, handmade, unique, or one-of-a-kind items you have found and breathed new life into with fresh paint and updated hardware? How about selling new items from select wholesalers in a style you have a hard time finding in local shops yourself? 

Dreaming of a business flyer........... ?

Would you like some tips on how to turn your dream into a new business reality?

Provence Fall Colors Blue and Yellow

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Add a Little FRENCH STYLE 

To Your Kitchen This Fall

Yellow mixed with blue is one of the most common color combinations in Provence, a region in the south of France. The region is known for sunflowers and lavender, for warm sunny days under blue skies, and for Impressionist painters whose paintings reflected their bright sun-drenched surroundings. 

Likewise, local Provençal potters and weavers used those same colors to create dishes and linens making it easy for us to add Fall French style to our kitchens. With just a little yellow, we can give blue and white dishes a Fall look. 


French Design on Friday 26

Friday, October 6, 2017

 French Bleu 

Shades of Bleu in French Design 

What color is French bleu exactly? Who defines which bleu is the real French bleu? Paint companies? Pantone color of the year? Paris designers? Van Gogh? Monet? Chartres Bleu in the Chartres Cathedral stained glass windows? 

French bleu is more than one true blue. Several bleu shades abound across France, and you get to choose which bleu is the French Bleu for you. Take a look at options shown in photographs taken in France. 


Beautiful Fall Display Tips

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Magazines and books have had beautiful Fall displays on porches, tables, front doors, kitchen islands, coffee tables, mantels, and chests of drawers for decades. Now catalogs, websites, blogs, videos, HGTV, e-magazines, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc... have joined the decorating party and show beautiful lavish displays even more gorgeous than magazines from a decade ago. 

Photography took a GIANT leap forward with digital cameras, home computers, and desktop photo editing software which make the beautiful displays bigger than life. Crisp details, enriched colors, sweeping views, bright backgrounds... 


Fall Traditions New and Old

Monday, October 2, 2017

New and Old 

Fall Traditions 

Different seasons of the year have their own special traditions for our families, for our schools, for our jobs, for our communities, and for our circle of friends. One of the traditions I love seeing and taking part in is BLOG TOURS, a relatively new tradition for me. Working with fellow bloggers is always fun, and seeing collections of blog posts that revolve around a common theme are great places to get new ideas for my own garden and home. 


French Design in Backyards

Friday, September 29, 2017

Five Ways to Add 

French Design in Backyards 

France routinely casts a spell over unsuspecting travelers and lures them to seek a French lifestyle and to imitate French design once they return home. If you are one who fell under the spell, loves all things French, and is now a self-proclaimed francophile, try these five ways to add a little French style to your terrace, patio, deck, or garden. 

Step through a magical door and back into France in your own backyard. 

1.  S Y M M E T R Y  


Three White Narcissus Spectacular Bulbs

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

FALL is the Time to Order
Three White Spectacular Narcissus Bulbs 

Are you in love with narcissus bulbs? Bulbs that pop up when Winter skies are grey, when clouds hang low over dormant gardens, when frigid temperatures make your teeth chatter? Are you in love with bulbs that push their way through frozen ground and promise Spring is around the corner? 

Y E S ?  

Daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, buttercups, paperwhites... come in many colors, color combinations, and trumpet shapes. With so many options, everyone can find daffodils suited for their personal preferences and garden requirements. NOW is the time to order the bulbs to insure your bulbs will be planted at the right time this Fall. 

Here are three spectacular white narcissi to order for your gardens, one for inside and two for outside. 

# ➀  Z I V A 


French Country Design From The Findery

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Findery in Waco, Texas
offers French Country Design, 

not just American farmhouse country. 

To transition a house from American Country style to French Country style means looking at every new purchase to see if it moves a room closer to French Country. This may seem obvious, but sometimes you may lose sight of what you want your house to look like, and buy small items that do not add to the overall design. After you replace wingback chairs with French bergère chairs and replace braided cotton rugs with Aubusson carpets, a room has French Country as its foundation style, but you are not finished. 

Large pieces are only the beginning. 

Large pieces like sofas, rugs, tables, and chests set a room's style. Accessories add greater depth to a style by layering the look. Clocks, lamps, bowls, statues, pillows... provide finishing touches. 

The Findery in Waco is a fun place to shop, filled with farmhouse country style, but the unusual store  and adjacent warehouse also have French Country items. Here are some small items I bought from there to add layers of French Country design to my ever evolving French-inspired garden and home. 

I am not associated with The Findery in any way, but am sharing about their store because I always love finding new places to shop and think some of you may, too.

french country vintage seltzer bottle 


Garden Shed Summer View Part Two

Friday, September 22, 2017

{Disclosure: This post contains photos of items that are for sale in the Botanic Bleu shop on Square.} 

Garden Shed Summer View

Interior - Part 2 
Linens, Paper, Pottery 

Summer officially ends today, September 22, and with it, the end of summer decor in the garden shed. As I look around the little chateau de jardin d'été  (summer garden castle), I realize the contents fall mostly into three categories. Linens, paper, and pottery, things I love, are casually scattered around the garden shed amongst companion items.  

Everything, it seems, has a story. Big, small, but a story. 

L I N E N S 

Create Unexpected Fall Decor

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Muted Natural Fall Colors 

call for unexpected fall decor. 

As seasons change, we see a difference in Mother Nature's attire. As Fall arrives, colors in nature change. For some parts of the world, green leaves fade to yellow, orange, and red, and then drop to the ground creating a vivid palette.  In other areas, like Texas, color changes are more muted, without the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Instead, deep green leaves fade to paler green as they lose their summer color, then change straight to brown. 

Fall comes in all shades, and home Fall decor can also come in all shades. Subdued Fall displays still celebrate the changing seasons and can give an unexpected fresh look to your home. 

If you are like me and shudder at decorating with orange and brown, RELAX, and create unexpected Fall decor by using muted colors instead. Plus, you do not have to use cornstalks, acorns, or pumpkins to create a little Fall magic in your home. 


Garden Shed Summer View Part One

Monday, September 18, 2017

{Disclosure: This post contains photos of items that are for sale in the Botanic Bleu shop on Square.} 

Garden Shed Summer View

Interior - Part 1 

Before summer slips away on September 22, take a look at how the French-inspired garden shed looked inside this summer. Usually the only time you get to see inside the garden shed is around Christmas when it is filled to the rafters with French Country Christmas inspiration for shoppers. 

Once the winter holidays are over each year, the garden shed takes on a relaxed atmosphere. There are always a few Christmas-y things hanging out in the shed all year since this is the best place to store them, but the space has more of a garden house feel than a Christmas shop feel. 

Findery Country Shopping Waco Texas

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Findery

Country Shopping in Waco, Texas 

Waco, Texas is famous for Magnolia Market, the Silos, and Fixer Upper, but there are other shopping places you don't want to miss if you are in Waco. After shopping at Chip's and Joanna's, head down Webster Street one block to another fun place to shop for farmhouse country at The Findery. 


Porch Plate Rack

Saturday, September 9, 2017

P L A T E   R A C K S  

Modest Pieces of Furniture With a Big Impact 

Plate racks have been popular features in country kitchens for generations. Prior to the modern kitchen design (in the United States) in the mid-20th century, kitchens had little storage, mostly in the form of open shelves and open plate racks. Shelves and plate racks fit in small spaces and made plates easy to reach when needed. 

Currently there is an upsurge of returning to open shelves and plate racks in American kitchens. Magazines, blogs, and Pinterest boards showcase beautiful new kitchens, from tiny houses to luxury designs, with open shelves and plate racks. Do-it-yourself bloggers, house flippers, and fixer-uppers offer directions for installing shelves and custom-designed plate racks, including one floor-to-ceiling design with a hand painted recipe on the wall behind the plate rack. 

Internet links at the end take you to some of my favorites. If you love dreaming of a new kitchen or updating your old one, you are sure to find some inspiration. 


So Close To Amazing Stories

Monday, August 21, 2017

Do you plan to view the solar eclipse today? An AMAZING event... a total solar eclipse for a wide path across the United States. The next total solar eclipse in the United States won't occur for 7 years... April 8, 2024, and the next one after that won't occur for 28 years... August 12, 2045. This is an amazing lifetime event today, and I don't want to miss it. 

We are so excited about the eclipse that we traveled to visit my brother who lives in north Alabama where we can see 97% total coverage of the sun during the eclipse. ***Remember to follow safety guidelines for protecting your eyes while viewing an eclipse.***  

So CLOSE to 100% coverage. So CLOSE to amazing. 

Wait, 97% IS AMAZING! 

Do you have days when you feel less than amazing? I do. I feel only 97%, let 3% overshadow my day and spirit, and forget that 97% IS amazing. 

Today is not one of those days. There are at least two amazing things happening today. A DOUBLE amazing day. 

It is an amazing day because of the solar eclipse.  And it is an amazing day because I am excited to co-host a blog Tour of So Close to Amazing Stories and Reviews with twelve other incredible bloggers. We are excited to host a linky party of stories and book reviews with our awesome friend, KariAnne Wood.

So Close To Amazing

KariAnne Wood's new book is due out on September 5, 2017.

Pre-order before Sept. 4 and receive fabulous pre-order bonuses. 

Pre-order your copy at 

Anyone who has read KariAnne's Thistlewood Farms blog knows you will love reading her book filled with tales and adventures of how she and her family jumped by faith from the big city lights of Dallas to the 

*fire*fly* lights of rural Kentucky. 

a blog Tour of So Close to Amazing 
Stories and Reviews 
August 21 - September 16, 2017 


We invite you to link-up your book reviews about KariAnne's book, So Close to Amazing. Plus, we invite you to link-up your stories of So Close to Amazing happenings in your life. Share your "...Stories of a DIY life gone wrong... and learning to find the beauty in every imperfection." 

We can't wait to see/read all the hilarious, or life-changing, and/or touching stories inspired by KariAnne and her new book, So Close To Amazing. Link up from your blog, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram posts/photos that tell your so CLOSE to amazing stories

That's right, you do not have to write a blog to join the linky party. You could share an Instagram story, or a Facebook post, or a Pinterest photo. Whatever you link-up either needs to be a book review of KariAnne's book and/or tells a so CLOSE to amazing story

Used by permission: Rachel Lane

We all have those so CLOSE to amazing projects that didn't turn out as amazing as our minds planned. One of my good friends and her sister used to label their less-than-perfect projects as "skunked." If a star turned out crooked, they said, "Skunked that one," laughing together the whole time.  

If you ever shared one of those "project fails" on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or your blog, here's your chance to share it one more time (or share it for the first time) ... how you learned to laugh it off and/or learned "to find the beauty in every imperfection." All of us sometimes feel less than amazing, and by sharing with one another, we encourage and build one another up to embrace we really are amazing regardless of our imperfections. 

Do you love prizes? Then start jumping up and down. We have PRIZES. Yes, we do. Each time you link-up to the party, on any of the thirteen blogs hosting the party, you are entered to win. Link-up any time August 21 - September 16, 2017. 

TWO lucky winners... 

Winners will be selected at random and announced on 
September 17, 2017 on Thistlewood Farms 
and on other co-hosts' blogs.  

1st PRIZE: 

$100 Amazon Gift Card plus a signed copy of So Close to Amazing 

2nd PRIZE: 

Signed copy of So Close to Amazing


Be sure to visit all of the co-hosts to read their So Close to Amazing Stories and Reviews that kick off the first day of the linky party. You will laugh, you will cry, you will celebrate...

... beauty found in imperfection...

"Come sit by me." 

Need help with linking up to a blog Tour of So Close to Amazing Stories and Reviews party? See Linky Party Help for detailed directions. 

Come back all during August 21-September 16 to read the latest link-ups and to link up your amazing stories/reviews. Every link-up is an entry to win!   

French Design on Friday 25

Friday, August 18, 2017

~ ribbed vaulted ceilings ~

Architectural features of massive castles, cathedrals, and municipal buildings are awe inspiring. With our heads tilted back to take in all of the lofty vaulted ceilings, we marvel at the engineering as well as the beauty.  French designs over the ages sometimes took generations of architects and masons to complete their grand designs, leaving behind buildings of such magnitude and beauty they still stand centuries later. 


French Chair for a Desk

Monday, August 14, 2017

...a versatile chair with French style can fit several places in a French-inspired garden and home... 

even as a desk chair 

Finding a French style chair for a desk may be easier than you think. You just have to know where to look... beyond antique French chairs in French flea markets. Instead of looking at flea markets for vintage chairs or at office furniture stores for new chairs, look at dining chairs. 


French Design on Friday 24

Friday, August 11, 2017


~ Dining en plein air
Knowing the culture

Sidewalk cafes are synonymous with France. Thus, synonymous with French design. Dining en plein air (in the outdoor air) is prevalent in cities, towns, and villages. No city is too big nor too small for eating outside. No restaurant is too elegant nor too rustic to have outdoor dining. The smallest village has outdoor tables and chairs for its lone restaurant, and metropolitan areas have a variety of outdoor dining options. Settings everywhere can be on terraces, in courtyards, along narrow passageways, overlooking rivers, in town squares, on sidewalks, and in pea gravel gardens.  

French Design a beautiful way to hide wall plugs

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Having lived in several HUMBLE abodes while growing up in rural Alabama, I appreciate all the modern conveniences in new houses including electrical wall plugs. However, I do not like wall plugs to take center stage in my French-inspired garden and home. 

French-style white ceramic pots filled with "garden grower" extra large white hydrangeas are meant to be the center of attention in my modern home. The large medallion on the vase/pot is much more pleasing to see than a conveniently-placed wall plug. 

DIY Shell Clothespins

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inspiration for do-it-yourself projects is born from using what you have to create what you need or want. At least that is how DIY shell clothespins came about at my house, and I love how they turned out. 

Everyday I think of another way to use them, and one of my readers commented she wanted to make some to give as a gift to a family member. So, here is how to make the super cute shell clothespins. 


DIY French Coastal Banner

Monday, July 17, 2017

La  Mer
the sea 

In the heat of summer the sea calls with its pounding waves, seagull squeals, salty spray, and beaches cooled by swirling waters. 

To capture the lure of the sea and to bring it home, display an easy to make DIY French coastal banner both inside and outside. La mer (the sea) will refresh your mind and imagination in the midst of summer's heat. 

Collect books about France, white starfish, and a framed French postcard to create an inside vignette surrounding the French-themed coastal banner displayed on a photo stand. 

See a link at the end of the post for downloading a free set of blue and white La Mer letters decorated with fleur de lis. 

French Design on Friday 23

Friday, July 14, 2017

French Celebrations 
~ Bastille Day ~

JULY 14 
le 14 juillet

French design for national celebrations has much in common with national celebrations in the United States, beginning with hurrah for the red, white, and bleu that appears throughout celebrations in both countries. 

Both national flags sport red, white, and bleu, but the two bleus are not quite the same shade. The French flag is known as the Tricolore for its equal-sized bands of bleu, white, and red and was born out of the French Revolution in 1789 which was influenced by the American Revolution of 1776.