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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

White Hearts With French Feathers

Hearts are some of my favorite things and are scattered all around our house. February is the month of love...  for both family and friends. Later this month I will host a friendship lunch for some good friends who volunteered to help work during the annual Regional Academic Decathlon Competition that I have been coordinating for the past six years, and I'm spotlighting the hearts to send some friendship love to all of them. 

To go with the hearts on the white bookshelf in the sunspace... aka as my makeshift indoor potting table... I added a couple of small clay rose pots to the hearts, but the arrangement looked rather bland. 

Remember the hand-stamped-with-gold French script feathers that I made? They are just the right size to fit into the rose clay pots and add a little flair to the arrangement. Stamping feathers is super easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Try it.... you will love it! 

If you are decorating for February and don't have any hand-stamped French script feathers, a small 4-inch starter herb plant would be another great filler in a clay pot to add some zing to the grouping. A couple of years ago, fresh mint starter plants were what I planted in rose clay pots for the Friendship Luncheon that year. Each of the friendship honorees got to take home one of the mint plants. Yes, those are the very plants in the photo in my blog header. 

Adding just that small cluster of feathers makes all the difference.  Hmmm... perhaps the little feathers would be a nice touch to add to a small favor for each of this year's attendees. 

Any suggestions for other things to put in the clay pots to give the arrangement of small hearts a special touch? 

Have you heard?  
There is a new linking party that starts 

Thursday, February 11, 2016 

Four of my friends who are also Texas bloggers 
will be hosting 

Thoughts of Home on Thursday

Everyone is invited. 
Their button grabbed me right away... all that beautiful blue. 

Hope to see you there. 

Botanic Bleu will be.... 

celebrating friendship, decorating, recipes, gardening, and inspiration. 


Please join me at these inspiring sites...



Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rustic Wild Heart With Dried Roses

February always brings out the urge in me to create hearts.  Some years, making strawberry cakes in heart-shaped individual cupcake pans satisfies the urge for hearts.  Other years, elaborate homemade Valentine cards with roses, glitter, embossing using rubber stamps, and attached heart-shaped buttons to send to friends fills that annual desire to create hearts.  My sister has the same annual desires to create hearts.  We both inherited some gene that drives us to make hearts in February, and sometimes we work together to create custom Valentine cards.  

However, my sister has a special talent for working with flowers and her latest heart creation was this wild floral heart. Rustic wild vines create the heart shape with dried roses, grapevines, mossy twig vines, green reindeer moss, blue paper, and a tiny paper heart from scrap wrapping paper all layered on a thick wooden tree ring.  

The heart shape is more suggested than rigidly defined which makes the rustic heart all the more beautiful to me.  The hardest part in making this beauty is the vision for putting all the pieces together for the first time.  Now that you have seen it, you probably can make a similar one to fill any February creative urge of your own to make hearts. 

A surprise gift to me, the rustic heart hangs in my made-over mud room, but would be a wonderful February door hanging on a sheltered front door.  Take a look at how it is constructed, beginning with a 3-4 inch thick circular tree slice as the foundation.  No need to cut the wood base in the shape of a heart. The heart shape is created using vines. 

From this close-up view, you can see how the vines are layered and are not flattened against the circular base.  Rather, they swirl out with unkempt tendrils. 

Rustic Wild Heart Layers in order of creation
  1.  Circular 3-4" thick wood base about 7-8" in diameter
  2.  Attach a picture hanging hook to the back of the wood base. Do this before creating the vine hearts to keep from smashing the hearts. 
  3.  Paper (color of your choice) glued onto the wood base 
  4.  Small paper heart folded with only one side glued to the wood, leaving one side standing up 
  5.  Large grapevines, twisted into large heart that extends beyond the wood base edges. Glue or nail to the wood base at 2-3 places leaving most of the heart form free 
  6.  Small vines clustered together to form the most recognizable heart shape. Glue to the large grapevines. 
  7.  Glue dried roses randomly to the small vine heart. 
  8.  Glue small clumps of green reindeer moss as shown 

The rustic wild heart looks right at home hanging on a white-washed pine beadboard wall in my mud room. 

French Country is the over-all look I love, but the rustic heart also goes very well with country, cottage, and shabby chic decorating styles.  Can you see this rustic heart in your house? 


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Monday, February 1, 2016

February l'heure bleue

l'heure bleue en Février
the second in a monthly collage of blue images

les choses que j'aime (some things I love)
A collection of blue hearts contains l'heure bleue moments... French vintage letters in blue and white envelopes, cherubs on a blue velvet heart, blue hydrangeas, an Eiffel Tower stamp cancellation, a snippet of a valentine message, and two heart font characters.  Each of these gives ideas for ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. 

Used by permission: 52Flea
Laura at 52Flea shared this pair of vintage Limoge cherubs resting on a blue velvet heart in At Bit of Blue as part of a beautiful romantic collection of blue.  Nothing is more romantic than giving a special piece of jewelry to someone you love, and giving a vintage French piece of jewelry makes the gift even more romantic and special. See Laura's post for more blue valentine inspiration. Please visit 52Flea to PIN the above photo.  

Used by permission: French Larkspur
Write your special someone a handwritten love letter describing reasons you love him/her. Make it even more romantic by using beautiful blue French stationery, special stamps, and your favorite French perfume to lightly spray the envelope.  G. Lalo is a French company that makes beautiful paper and envelopes similar to the French vintage envelopes shown.

Tracey at French Larkspur travels to France regularly where she collects French brocante to bring home and offers many items to her readers. Some favorite French items are vintage letters with their distinctive French cursive handwriting, artistic stamps, and cancellations that authenticate the letters are vintage.  Could these be French love letters? Please visit French Larkspur to PIN the above photo. 

Flowers are the language of love. Send your loved one a bouquet of flowers or send him/her a plant in flower like a blue hydrangea. Every time your special someone sees the plant, he or she will remember your love.

Roses have long been the traditional flowers for Valentine's Day bouquets, but the Long Tall Texan knew how much I love blue hydrangeas and always sent blue/mauve/white mixed bouquets for every special occasion. These hydrangeas were from my mother's garden a couple of summers ago, and I gathered armloads of them to bring home with me. Hydrangeas are forever linked to the people I love. 

Botanic Bleu readers recognize the heart character from the Zaph Dingbats font that is part of my sign-off for each blog post. Seeing that one little character always makes me happy. Add this little heart to a Valentine for friends and neighbors to bring a smile to their faces. 

Using it in place of an apostrophe is one of my favorite ways to use this special heart. 

One of the better known publications to use the sideways heart to indicate the end of its articles is Victoria magazine. For years I used the sideways heart in my high school math lesson plans, tests, and worksheets. 

Dingbat fonts have many great little characters that add a little something special to writing. Do you have a favorite character you use? 

The color blue is one of my favorite things in life, and l'heure bleu is one of my favorite times in life. L'heure bleue is not so rare that few people ever glimpse it, but l'heure bleue is a rare beautiful few minutes that occur only when all the atmospheric conditions are just right. 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 plan to share a collage of blue images that create a little l'heure bleu for me. 

Are there some things that give you a little l'heure bleue moment? There are ten more collages, one per month in 2016, filled with things that give me l'heure bleue moments and hopefully, you too. 

If you missed the first one, see 


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