Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Country White Urn

Monday, June 18, 2018

This year has been a very good year for finding French garden urns. Not only did I find a collection of French-style garden urns from a local nursery, I also found a beautiful French Country white urn from a wholesale supplier in late March. The urns were shipped in May, and everything looks beautiful in them.  

French Country white urn filled with pink crepe myrtle blooms
To add a French Country flower arrangement to the swing loft in my house, I filled one of the French-style pedestal urns with crepe myrtle blooms from my back yard. 

French Country Style For Bathrooms

Friday, June 15, 2018

Adding French Country to a bathroom can be as easy as adding accents. Ready for ideas about which accents/accessories will give your bathroom French style? It is easier than you may realize. 

Begin with one piece of French Country furniture to add instant French decor. A small chair or an ottoman gives you a place to sit near a bathroom's vanity, and either a chair or bench is an easy way to add French Country charm to any space. 

For small spaces like bathrooms, one small chair or bench makes a big impact in setting the room's style. 

French Country Style for Bathrooms begins with a small toile bench

Inspiring Creativity | No. 1

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Creativity is within all of us. And there is more than one kind of creativity. Defining creativity is even an exercise in creativity itself since there is more than one aspect to the definition. 

Some people may seem naturally creative, but chances are their creativity was inspired and nurtured over the years and flourished as a result. Where and how is creativity inspired and nurtured? One way is by being around people who share their creativity and who explain their creative process. 

Thus begins a new series. 

inspiring creativity series with wood imprinted pencils dream create inspire imagine

Indoor Swing Loft Tour BEFORE French Country Changes

Thursday, June 7, 2018

When you live in an area with hot, hot summers you can still enjoy sitting in a swing sipping iced tea. Just create a space indoors to set up as an indoor porch ... like our loft that looks out large windows to treetops. 

Indoor swing loft looks out large second story palladian window

Small Vanity Master Bathroom | Update 2

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A few changes to the small vanity in the master bathroom began around the second week of March. On April 19, I shared the progress of the changes. Today is update #2 on changes to the small vanity area in the master bedroom. 

Everything on my to-do list is not finished, but most items are checked off, plus a handful of items added during the work also have been completed. 

Here is how the small vanity area looks today. With just white paint, a new mirror, and some electrical connection changes the space looks much brighter. 

small vanity painted white with a new white wood carved mirror

5 Features in Floral Gardening Shoes

Monday, May 28, 2018

If you love gardening, you probably garden in all kinds of weather. Sunny, warm, hot, cold, and even rainy weather. Some days are easier than others. On those days that are not so easy, special gardening shoes with great features make gardening in messy, rainy weather more fun than slogging about your muddy garden in canvas tennis shoes. 

5 features in floral gardening shoes to watch for

New Internet Policies For You AND Me

Friday, May 25, 2018

Technology and I have a love-hate relationship. I love having access to shopping online, emailing my friends, sharing photos, checking the weather, reading blogs with great new ideas, recipes, projects ... 

At the same time ... 

I struggle with learning all the new things in technology and keeping up with changes. The internet is moving at light speed, making my head spin some days, as I try to keep my balance. 

Laptop with New Internet Policies For You and Me

New French Garden Urns

Monday, May 21, 2018

How do you get a French look in your garden? 

One way that guarantees to take your garden from a beautiful collection of plants without a defined style to a French-inspired style is to use plants like those grown in France ... 

... and to plant them in garden urns with classic French design. 

New French Garden Urns in 2 sizes and 2 shapes on the potting bench
Two-balled topiaries, single-ball ivy topiaries, triple-ball myrtle topiaries, and cone-shaped rosemary topiaries have not been too difficult to find for both my inside and outside gardens, but affordable French garden urns are another story. 

Garden Shed Budget Wood Butcher Block Counter

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Countertops Part 3 | Garden Shed 

Butcher Block 

The third in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops. 

Garden sheds are buildings made from dreams, after building the main house. Years of sketching diagrams on long winter nights, of saving reclaimed materials, and of collecting photos stuffed into shoeboxes and garden shed Pinterest boards keep the dream alive. 

Most often a garden shed is built with an even tighter budget than your home. Salvaged windows, doors, sinks, faucets, and counters along with DIY homeowners play major roles in making a garden shed affordable for most of us. 

The le jardin château (garden castle) in my backyard fits that description almost to a T. 

Budget Wood Butcher Block Counter In Backyard Garden Shed

Magnolia Garden Ideas To Make Your Own | Part 3

Monday, May 14, 2018

Have you planted your tomatoes? How about sugar snap peas? Or sweet pea flowers? Spring is THE time to get our gardens planted, but it also the time to try out some great gardening ideas you found in seed catalogs, gardening centers, blog posts, Pinterest boards, and visiting gardens in person.

If you want a little more inspiration for your garden STRUCTURES, take a look at what I found in my visits to Magnolia Market in Waco, TX. 

This is the final post, Part 3, in a series of Magnolia garden ideas to make your own. Links to Part 1 and Part 2 are at the end of the post. 

🌿 Garden Idea ❹ : STRUCTURES    

  • G A R D E N   S H E D  
Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own from Magnolia's Garden Shed

Bathroom Budget Wise Cultured Marble Countertop

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Countertops Part 2 | Bathroom 

Cultured Marble 

The second in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops 

Budget wise cultured marble countertop with ogee edges in a vintage pine washstand
Finding antique and vintage pieces to use in a new house is a way to add character and to make a house your own. A vintage washstand in weathered pine with hand-carved doors makes a perfect bathroom vanity with patina that a new vanity does not have. 

And, if an old washstand has a white marble top, even more patina to love and to cherish. Unless ... the marble top is broken into two almost equal pieces. 

Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own | Part 2

Sunday, May 6, 2018

In Part 1 of this series of garden ideas from Magnolia in Waco, Texas, PLAN and WALKWAYS were the two ideas from Magnolia Market's gardens you can study for ways to use them in your own garden. Those were just the beginning of so many garden ideas you can make your own. 

Once you have a plan to organize your designs, and walkways to define your garden areas, you are ready for the fun part ... adding plants. Part 2 looks at the different ways Magnolia Market created a beautiful garden filled with a variety of plants and containers. 

🌿 Garden Idea ❸ : PLANTS  

Magnolia Garden Plant  Ideas to Make Your Own
Flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees are all part of the Magnolia gardens with great design ideas anyone can copy in their own gardens at home. 

Kitchen Budget Wise Laminate Counter

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Countertops Part 1 | Kitchen
The first in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops 

budget wise laminate counters in blue and white country French inspired kitchen
While homemakers dream of luxury marble, quartz, granite, and wood countertops, reality often calls for budget wise laminate kitchen counters. And, budgets are not the only reasons for choosing laminate countertops. 

French Wire Baskets | Moss

Sunday, April 29, 2018

M O S S 
the unsung hero of French wire baskets 

An inexpensive fresh flower arrangement can always be made from 4-inch starter plants from the local nursery. Need a quick, easy arrangement as a table centerpiece for a party, birthday, or luncheon that you and your guests will absolutely love?  

French Wire Basket With Blue Sage and Moss

Magnolia Garden Ideas To Make Your Own | Part 1

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places, when you are not looking for them. To get gardening ideas is not why most people go to Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas, but much to my delight on my visits there I discovered the Magnolia complex is a blueprint of gardening ideas. 

There are so many great garden ideas gathered from Magnolia Market, I am sharing two of them, PLAN and WALKWAYS, as Part 1 in this post and will share more ideas in additional posts. 

This series of posts will help you create a garden of your dreams. Who better to learn from than a woman, Joanna Gaines, who made her dreams come true? 

🌿 Garden Idea ❶ : PLAN  

Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own Dream Garden
At the main entrance to Magnolia Market is a site map to help visitors find their way around. The map also illustrates the first great garden idea: PLAN. 

Home Renovations | Thoughts About Beautiful Images

Sunday, April 22, 2018

While you are mulling over your thoughts about budget wise countertops, or why white is timeless decor, or 7 ways to add French style to a bathroom, may I ask you to mull over something else about home renovations, also? 

Recently I began thinking about what others write about home renovations and how it relates to home decorating and blogging. The whole point of this blog is to share beautiful images and thoughts about beautiful images for our homes and gardens. 

Master Bath Small Vanity Progress

Thursday, April 19, 2018

When you last saw the master bathroom's small vanity area, the vanity was its original lightly stained wood finish, turned reddish, from thirty years ago. Finally, this spring work began to update the old vanity area from its American Country look. 

Here we are, 5 weeks after work began. 

Master Bath Small Vanity A F T E R Painting 

the FINAL coat of white paint 

The first of several planned changes this spring include painting the vanity white, but the number of times the vanity would be painted and the number of colors of white were not listed in the published plan I recently shared.  

Why not? 

DIY Wood Bathtub Tray | French Country Charm

Sunday, April 15, 2018

While refreshing our master bathroom I looked for ways to add more French Country charm to the bathtub. 

DIY wood bathtub tray adds French Country charm in master bath
What was I looking for? Something beyond the French Country chair, French script candle, carved pedestal, and natural cotton bath mat. 

7 Ways to Add French Country to a Master Bath

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Adding French Country style to a new home or a fixer-upper is easier to do than adding French Country style to an existing home. When you build a new house, you can include architectural details with French roots from the ground up. Fixer upper projects often include major renovations for floors, windows, room layouts, plumbing, appliances, and/or built-in cabinets. All offer ways to include French style. 

But, what about when you want to add French Country style to an existing room without remodeling? The good news is you can make changes to your rooms that will give them French style without changing the structures. With a little practice for looking at your existing rooms from a fresh perspective, you will begin to see changes you can make. Each new change will spark ideas for more changes. 

add French Country style 7 ways to existing master bath without remodeling
To get your creative decorating ideas flowing, take a look at seven ways you can add French Country style to a master bathroom... without making structural changes

Notes From The Country | No. 3

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Living in the countryside means getting to enjoy the changes of seasons up close. Every day in the spring is exhilarating with all the new life emerging. Each day something new is noted. Fits and starts of warm days, of cold days, of rainy days, of overcast days, and of BRILLIANT blue sky days make each new bit of green a cause for celebration. 

C E L E B R A T I O N 

for birds and critters 

Wild dewberry blooms in the country
Wild dewberry vines will provide berries for birds before summer comes. The berries are always small and unappetizing for picking for us, but just right for the birds. An old hollow stump makes a good shelter for country critters. 

Kitchen Island Spring Nesting | Design Challenge

Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring brings out the feather-my-nest instincts to create pretty arrangements on the kitchen island. Then over the course of several days I continue to fluff my nest by adding some elements, removing some items, and rearranging others. It reminds me of a saying my mother had, "Can't get your nest made?" 

kitchen island spring nesting arrangement design challenge

New Hardwood Floor Refinish Update and Discount Code

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

{Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rug Pad USA. I receive compensation for working with Rug Pad USA, but all opinions are honest and my own. Plus, there is a discount code for my readers so you may want to read about why quality rug pads are important to protect all your flooring and area rugs.}

 H A R D W O O D   F L O O R   U P D A T E 

One Year Later 

Living Room Oak Flooring BEFORE Refinishing 

One year ago we had our hardwood oak floor in the living room refinished. Our house is thirty years old, and the oak floor has been refinished once before. Yes, it was time to refinish the floor again last year, and this year I am sharing an update on the refinished oak floor.  

New Hardwood Floor Refinish Update Before Photo
The original oak floor was finished with a white-wash stain that kept the floor light, but allowed the wood grain to show through. The finish complemented the exposed natural pine beams and rafters in our post-and-beam house. 

One of the main reasons the floor needed refinishing was my beautiful black-background wool needlepoint rug had discolored the floor over time... even though there was a rug pad under the rug to protect the floor. 

Spring Potting Bench Flowers

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

F A V O R I T E   B E D D I N G  P L A N T S  

Nothing says spring has really arrived better than your favorite bedding plants showing up at your local nurseries. Once spring flower bedding plants arrive at plant stands, then they make their way to potting benches getting ready for spring gardens. 

spring potting bench flowers
At least that is what happens at my house and on my back porch potting bench. Every year my plan is to plant my new favorite bedding plants as soon as I get them home. But, every year my good intentions get waylaid. 

One Tired Easter Bunny

Sunday, April 1, 2018

H A P P Y   E A S T E R 

One Tired White Stuffed Easter Bunny

O N E   T I R E D   B U N N Y 

at the end of today 

French Country Floral Bunny Basket

Friday, March 30, 2018

E A S T E R   B A S K E T S  

are not just for children

As a child I loved getting an Easter basket filled with candies and toys every year. Now, as an adult I continue to love having baskets all decorated for the Easter season. Why give up a joyous experience just because you get older? Bring out your baskets and celebrate the season with a special basket on your dining table. 

French Country Floral Bunny Basket 

Rustic French country floral bunny basket
You will not be the only one enjoying a basket decorated for the season. Grown children who no longer live at home and who are coming over to visit will enjoy seeing a lapin (bunny) basket which will bring back many happy memories of their childhoods. Chances are a basket will spark conversations and stories among them of their own favorite baskets as children.

French Country Living Room Spring Sunlight

Thursday, March 29, 2018

S P R I N G  🌞  S U N L I G H T 

floods our French Country living room 
... in Texas 

french country living room spring sunlight
Cone boxwoods on the mantel and a French-inspired lantern with surrounding botanics on the living room blanket box / coffee table are the only new Spring decorations, but the brilliant sunlight announces SPRING to the whole house. 

Do you use your coffee table to serve coffee? I do not believe coffee has ever been served from a coffee table in my house EVER. Iced tea... yes. Coke... yes. But, coffee... not ever. 

Is it time for us to begin calling that surface by another name? Suggestions for a name to replace 'coffee table?'

French Design on Friday 27

Friday, March 23, 2018

F R E N C H   D E S I G N 

on Friday

~ Architecture ~ 

Curved Roof and Cupola 

How do we know what IS French design? When selecting architecture, furnishings, lighting, and accessories, how do we decide what to use? No better way to discover authentic French Design than either 1] to visit France and/or  2] to view photos taken in France. Botanic Bleu provides examples straight from France through photos taken by me while traveling across all of France which gives you a reference for genuine French Design. 

From the photos you will be able to study the details and to find ways to incorporate real French Design into your home. That is what helped me to spot French Country design in the most unexpected places, like Home Depot

If you love French Country style, here is one of the latest ways I discovered to add a little French to my decor. And, you will be surprised at another affordable source of French Country design now in my living room.  

French Design in France 

French Design on Friday Roof at Chenonceau

Timeless White Decor | 5 Reasons Why

Monday, March 19, 2018

Timeless White Decor Five Reasons

Why is WHITE DECOR timeless?   

Hello Spring Pear Tree

Thursday, March 15, 2018

G O O D B Y E  W I N T E R  

H e l l o,  S p r i n g 

H e l l o,  P e a r  T r e e 

All over town there are white blooming trees scattered among the other trees that are still stark bare.  

Hello Spring with white blooming pear and plum trees
The Bradford pear trees, fruitless native plum trees, and fruiting plum bushes are in full bloom. Like beacons guiding winter weary travelers along the route, you see another one in the woods, in a pasture, in a garden, or lined up along the roadside before the last one fades from sight. 

Master Bath Small Vanity Update Plans

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Small Vanity BEFORE Update 

Plans to update the master bathroom's small vanity area are minimal, mostly cosmetic. 

American Country Bathroom Small Vanity BEFORE Update to French Country

From American Country to French Country 

Everything is functional and works. Nothing is broken, but the space is stuck in the past when the overall decor style for our house was American Country. The master bath large vanity area at the other end of this bathroom has already been updated to reflect more of the French Country style I prefer. 

There already have been a couple of small decor updates to bring more French Country to this section of the bathroom. But, this spring is the time for even more French Country updates to give the whole bathroom a more unified style. 

Inspiring Dear Heart Note

Thursday, March 8, 2018

D E A R  H E A R T 

A true short story about love, marriage, family, commitment, service, and 

getting priorities right. 

dear heart note reminder of love

French Lavender on the Breakfast Table

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Spring officially begins this month on March 20, but I am hurrying it along by putting French lavender bedding plants on the breakfast table in the sunspace. If spring cannot come fast enough for you either, here's how to create a little early spring with French Country touches. 

french country design lavender plants

Friend Lives in Your Heart DIY Envelope

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Friends live in your heart forever. 

A Paper Series Post 

Paper is a versatile, inexpensive medium useful for wide-ranging projects. 
What better way to begin a new series than to celebrate friendship 
since this paper series post, and more to come, are offered as tokens of friendship to you, 
Botanic Bleu readers and followers. 

Any gathering of friends for whatever the reason is a good time to share small hearts as tokens of friendship. Whether the gathering is for book club, a friend's birthday, a Bible study, a Valentine's party, a retirement luncheon, or a bloggers' luncheon, party favors with hearts are a good way to recognize special times together with friends. 

I made these DIY envelope/place card party favors for friends who attended my retirement luncheon as an educator, but can be made  

for any occasion celebrating Friendship 

DIY envelope place card
Today's post is a tutorial with templates for creating a beautiful glassine do-it-yourself (DIY) small envelope to use as a place card and to hold a party favor. 

Notes From The Country | No. 2

Monday, February 26, 2018

The sun came out Saturday after raining for a week. For days the breakfast sunspace windows were covered with streaks of raindrops. I like rain and enjoy snuggling in at home on rainy days and nights. My grandparents' farmhouse had a tin roof, and I loved sitting on the long front porch with my grandmother listening to the rain. And to falling asleep at night listening to rain on the tin roof. 

The rain this week revived our little spot in the countryside and added water to the underground water table. 

Rainy days are good days for dreaming and planning. 


Of spring flowers and green grass blowing in the wind... 

rain streaked window view of new green grass

Spring Narcissus Pillow

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

If winter comes, can spring be far behind? 
Percy Bysshe Shelley 

diy spring narcissus pillow

Dark days of cold dreary winter continue here, accompanied by steady rain. As I stared at the rain spots on the window, I was glad the trees, shrubs, and BULBS were getting the water they need. There are already buds on the Erlicheer narcissus in the front under the oak trees and on the Thalia narcissus on the sloped hillside in the backyard. 

I thought of spring and remembered a pillow I saw online. The pillow was perfect for bringing spring inside now before its official arrival on March 20. Rather than buy that one online, I decided to create a similar do-it-yourself version. 

This is an EASY project that requires no sewing! 

French Hot Chocolate for Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

PARIS is on my mind in the midst of a dreary February day, overcast with a fine mist, and unfulfilled promises of much-needed rain. Just the kind of day that calls for hot chocolate, staring out the window at the drizzle, and flashing back to hot chocolate in France. 

Romantic Vintage Valentine Table in Blue and White

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

V A L E N T I N E ' S  D A Y 

table set in blue and white 

Three things a Valentine's table does NOT have to have to be romantic.

❤ 1  Red or Pink Colors 

White roses and blue ribbons create a romantic table for celebrating Valentine's Day with friends, family, or lovers. Romance does not require pink or red. Indeed, if blue is your true love's favorite color, then blue is more romantic than red. 

Notes From The Country | No. 1

Monday, January 29, 2018

As January draws to a close I am slowly catching up on cleaning, organizing, planning, and dreaming. Notes to myself in a blue notebook about French-inspired country living keeps me from forgetting the plans in my mind. 

 D R E A M I N G  

Of indoor lavender plants, floral arrangements, and a potager to plant ... 

Vintage Old Chicago Brick with weeds sprouting in its holes 

Snowfall Video

Friday, January 26, 2018

For people who live in snow-prone areas of the world, snow is not always a beautiful sight. Bundling up for work, getting the car to start in sub-freezing temperatures, and seeing mounds of snow in grocery parking lots pushed up in heaps with black soot become dreary. 

For those of us who live in areas where snow is rare, snowfall is magical. We know it will only last for short periods of time, sometimes just fleeting minutes as the flakes melt hitting the ground. Other times there are serene scenes as our world comes to a standstill for the snow. 

Enjoy the beautiful scenes of a heavy snowfall for us in 2010. 

Look closely for glimpses of the garden shed when it was still an ugly duckling 
and of the house before the covered porch was added. 

Winter Porch Another View

Monday, January 22, 2018

Another View of the Winter Porch 

with a request for input from my readers. 

Click on the white ARROW to begin the slide show. 
Then click on the box in the lower right corner to enlarge the photos to fill your entire screen. 

The previous post on Botanic Bleu was Winter Porch Plants with standard photos and text. The above video/slideshow is another view of the Winter Porch in a different format. 

Recent articles in the virtual world indicate videos are preferred over the written word by most people viewing information on the Internet. 

1]  Is the video/slide show above appearing on your computer, mobile device, notebook, etc...? Are there any glitches

2]  Did this post load at its normal speed or did this post load slower than usual? 

3]  Which do you prefer? The original Winter Porch Plants post or the video/slideshow version with music? 

4]  Would you like a blog post with the video/slideshow at the top followed by several paragraphs of text? 

5]  Or would you prefer the video/slideshow with just ONE short paragraph

6]  Why do you like the version you chose? 

7]  Any tips or suggestions?  

I will continue to experiment with different versions of slide shows and videos this year, but most posts will be in standard format with still photos and text. I will be looking for a better way to show  slides and/or video. 

Thank you for giving your feedback in the comments below. 

* * * * * * * 

A quick update on real-time life and why there have not been any new posts for a couple of weeks...  I had a good visit with my brother out-of-state followed by a trip to California with my sister, the professional florist. She had a floral job for 40+ centerpieces at a dinner in the San Diego Hilton Hotel, and I went along to help (a little.) Of course, since we were in California we had to take a few days vacation before heading back home. We missed almost all of the frigid temperatures at home while in San Diego where we had balmy 70°-80° days. 

My sister and I will be traveling to spend time with our brother in the days to come. Future blog posts may be irregular. Right now I am trying to get caught up on everything here at home. There is the small matter of a broken water pipe from the freezing temperatures, but fortunately the pipe is outside the house between the house and garden shed. The cut-off water valve works as designed and allows us to have water in the house. No pressure to get the outside pipe to the garden shed repaired means it may be a few weeks before I tackle that. Then there are the mountains of laundry and usual household bills that need attention now.  

Thank you for reading. Keep cozy and warm as we dream of spring. 

Winter Porch Plants

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

B r r r r ...  1 3 ° 
the low on the porch this winter ...  so far 

Even in winter, there are several plants to enjoy on a porch.  

In north central Texas, winter weather is usually mild enough to enjoy porch living for many of the days during winter. Part of enjoying the porch is having evergreen plants, and an added bonus is having blooming flowers.