Sharing a Marie Antoinette French-Styled Hutch for Mid-Summer

Ahhh summer!!! Now that the shed is in and we have begun working on moving the fence, I am feeling happy and can decorate again… Today it is all about Marie Antoinette…

Last year’s thriftshop find ~ our happy couple having a tête à tête.

I was at Target last month sometime and found this fun Marie Antoinette card.. I LOVE what it says and it cracked me up! I am thinking you will enjoy it, too:

All I said was, ‘Let’s have cake,’ or ‘Let’s eat cake,’ or something like that, and suddenly everyone got all pissy!”

Poor Marie Antoinette… So misunderstood!… ;)’

Brittanica shared a fun video debunking the myth that Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” She did say,

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”

This was written down by a writer named Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who reported that he found the quote in a book, when Mademoiselle Marie Antoinette was just five years old!

Apparently it was already a popular phrase, and no, someone so out of touch with how peasants lived wouldn’t have understood why those people couldn’t afford to eat brioche, a wonderfully sweet bread…

Cake time!

I pose another thought…

Remember how you’ve heard in the past, or may have seen portrayed in movies, beggars or peasants coming to the back kitchen doors of estates and being given meals or bread from those kitchens??

What if brioche that was leftover from noblemen’s meals was shared with them??

Perhaps that is what Marie Antoinette was referring to…

Interesting thought, non?

Lightened this photograph a little so the English Springer Spaniel would show up.

Today, of course, we have food pantries and soup kitchens of which we can donate canned goods and foods to to share with people in need. Our IOOF (Odd Fellows and Rebekahs) group donates boxes full of foods every couple of months, several hundred pounds.

Here in the hutch

For our mid-summertime hutch, I thought about the abundance of hay and vegetables which will be coming into harvest very soon.

I’ve picked a few tomatoes already this summer and I’ve sprayed Tomato Set on all four plants hoping they will be pollinated again and set even more tomatoes! I’ve taken some of my white and green onion tops and planted them in the garden, too. I love watching their allium heads come up!

And of course there is always tea time! I was just reading about The Traveling Teacup over at Barbara’s site, Mantel and Table. So sweet! If I wasn’t working most of the year (and ended up being too worn out each day…), it’d be fun to send another teacup out there!

I did share the book Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Christian singer Stephen Curtis Chapman. It is the story of the loss of their daughter and God’s hand in the family’s getting through this tragedy. Very powerful and I think you would enjoy it so I’ve linked it. I am not sponsored so just for you.

I had no idea that this post was going to go in the rabbit trail directions that it is taking, but sometimes we just have to Let go and Let God, right?

Apparently I was supposed to share this book with you, and I know I haven’t before. 🙂

source ~ Marie Antoinette on Wikipedia

Back to Marie Antoinette…

Then when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were here last month, we drove over to McKinney and Farmersville. In Farmersville, Texas (about an hour away from here), Gini and I went into a cute clothing shop so she could pick up some Farmersville t-shirts and I found this dish towel…

It was a sign that I needed to put these two finds of Mademoiselle Marie-Antoinette together and make a vignette!

And this is how this this Marie Antoinette French-Styled Mid-Summer Hutch came to be!

I’ve put together everything French-related that I have, plus summertime harvest teacups and china. Many of these pieces are thrift shop finds.

The stack of plates are the new-to-me Castleton plates my mother-in-law brought from their IOOF thrift shop in Sacramento, California.

Same with the gorgeous hot chocolate pot ~ which couldn’t you see Marie Antoinette having a cup of cocoa seated in a chair designed to hold her poofy dress pulled up next to a small tea table??

A little dark and blurry ~ my bad! I didn’t pull out the tripod and chose instead to let the camera focus in manual as best it could! A piece of wall paper I’ve had sits in the background and which would work perfectly in a dollhouse… On my bucket list. 😉

And here’s the full hutch ready for company… and Marie to visit! 😉

Happy mid-summer, friends!

Barb 🙂


A Christmas Visit with Judith and Botanic Bleu

For over ten years now, Judith Stringham, who writes the blog Botanic Bleu, has hosted a Christmas sales event at her home…

Upon arriving to her home about an hour away from where we live, Judith has a couple of teuteurs set up with lights and signs. This year with the COVID virus floating around, she has signs reminding everyone to wear a mask and also that this sale is not open to the public. Visitors had to sign up for the time they wanted and then confirm that you would be coming. Love her family’s acreage!

Totally love how Judith laid sprays of greenery around the base of each teuteur then placed green Arc de Bois (Horse Apple) seed pods like holly and its leaves! Btw, those “apples” are HEAVY and I can attest that they weigh about 2-5 lbs., EACH. Several people at the campground we lived at last had their windshields broken on their cars plus their RV’s dented. Happily, you can buy just “male” Arc de Bois trees; they are the ones in the springtime which lose their “ball blossoms.” Look for those in your garden center ~ awesome shade trees!
A quick look at the front of the Stringham’s home. Her sweet kitty is just in front of the garage door on the right.

Judith, her husband and sister have built all of the pathways surrounding their home and garden over the past 20+ years. The garden shed you will see was originally just a wooden structure but evolved to become a permanent solid rock beautiful building…

Isn’t this just the cutest??! Her home is part of my inspiration in my own garden, especially the pathways. On this day early in December, Judith’s sister was staying and was helping planting out in the upper garden. Let’s go check out inside!

I really wanted the large reindeer but just couldn’t afford it… Of course, I want everything inside! 😉

The sun was peeping in and out this day so I am sorry if some of these photos are a little dark. My appointment time was in the afternoon as I was working when the sign up time opened, so there aren’t nearly as many goodies as there were still available, as can be seen at last year’s event.

One of Judith’s big sellers are her boxwood wreaths and this year she has heart-shaped wreaths as well as her signature round ones. I bought one of her small wreath last year and it is still nice and green and dried perfectly. This year I brought home little “Noel” laser-cut signs to use in my Christmas decorating and to give as gifts:

from this year’s Advent week #3 post

I also remembered that Judith found these wonderful white-handled silverware sets and since I love all white place settings, this was my big splurge this year. Mr. Ethereal and I don’t buy each other Christmas gifts anymore so we usually just say, “Go get what you want and enjoy from me!” This is his gift to me this year. 🙂

They are stainless steel and can go into the dishwasher but I will probably wash them by hand just to keep them nice. I like the ceramic Shabby Chic look of the handles…

As I am writing this post, I just noticed the cute bee skeps… I’ll have to look for those next year… I did buy a White Christmas potholder to go with the kitchen towel I found last year. I also bought a softly scented candle which came in its own pretty box; it can just be seen up on the second upper shelf to the far right.

Last year I found a couple of sweet Belsnickel Santas and Judith had a few this year available. My “pile” of goodies is right there on the bureau: the potholder, a Christmas soap, a Noel sign to hang and the little Noels, plus a large heart (reminds me of those French cemetery hearts I would see in some blogs and in former Romantic Homes magazine editor, Fifi O’Neill‘s books ~ never could find any! ~ this is a good substitute).

I loved this birdcage, too, but unlimited space and funds… Maybe next year! Hubby wants us to clear stuff out, which I agree needs to be done.

Okay, enough about what I found and loved! Isn’t this such an adorable garden shed? She has another studio towards the rear of this potting shed (you can find it in this second linked post from last year… It has three sets of French doors and chandeliers…). The studio is larger and it is where she stores many things and also where she creates her treasures.

Judith had a post earlier this fall about making new shelves inside this smaller potting shed and I believe this is one of them (upper right with fleur de lis hangers). Love how she decorates!…

If you don’t already subscribe to Botanic Bleu you should check out Judith’s blog. She is a retired teacher and administrator now saleswoman and design influencer. You’ll enjoy her beautiful home and blog posts!

Her acreage reminds me of my last family home before I was married in the town of Shingle Springs, in the Northern California foothills. Part of the Gold Country area around Highway 49, and appropriately named for the gold miners who really mapped out California from 1849 onward, Judith’s two acres with its tall oaks really remind me of my old home…

A visual treat taking the eye “beyond”…

Even piles of downed tree trunks just look “right” in this setting… I miss being surrounded by trees but that’s also why we purchased our current home. I need tall trees; they are comforting.

Funny, this post isn’t going where I thought it would?… Does this happen to you when you write?? Now you know why I have the “pen pal” part in my bio! I write generally what I think. ;)’

I am going to try and build some French Teuteurs this next year and found a pattern on another blogger’s site. I forgot to ask Judith if she built hers or purchased them. They are quite expensive to buy so I am pretty sure Judith and her husband built theirs.

Don’t you just love her French garden?!! She has been to France a number of times and has such style…

Up on the deck


A real French park bench… Ahhhhh….

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Judith’s beautiful home and her potting shed and annual shop! If you are ever in the North Texas area, Judith has her shop open the first week in December and shares more about it on her blog and on her Facebook web page. Do come and visit!!!

Christmas hugs,



About France, A Little More Virtual Travel, and French Inspiration

Welcome to  a post I’ve longed to write… Today is the day to share a little of my travels when I was younger and a few posts from some blogging friends who write about their travels to France and decorating in our favorite French style…

The North Sea ~ Left to right: My German sister through the Bayer-AGFA exchange program, summer of 1981, Katja, myself and her brother Jan.

Missed opportunity

I long to visit France and when I was 19 years old I had the opportunity as an exchange student to go to France one weekend.  I had studied one year of French in high school and had fallen in-love with everything French! Partly because my German exchange sister didn’t want to go, I stayed home. She had been before and it just wasn’t her thing. At the time I thought I should stay back with Katja, in Leverkusen… I thought it was the right thing to do, not abandon her.

I should have gone for the weekend with her sister Dagmar and friends to Paris… But that missed opportunity will make getting to France all the sweeter when I do get there!

The lead photo is of myself and the family up along the Rhein River (Rhine) visiting several castles with my German mother Ute and her daughter, Katja. Sometimes Ute and I would tour cities along the Rhein during the day while Katja was finishing her junior year of high school.

My host mother Ute.

Ute and I went to Koblenz, Köln (Cologne) and other medieval towns up and down the Rhein.  Along the way Ute took me to a seconds shop so I could buy a few pieces of a beautiful set of china. 

Dinner with my inlaws last summer and Mr. Yoda hoping for
a nibble or two (or three!). These plates have pretty yellow daisies
on them. Each type of plate, platter or dish has a different flower.

French tableware

The Gerlach family had a breakfast set of china which I fell in-love with ~ so beautiful with pinks and yellows, Wedgwood blue forget-me-nots, and bright white daisies with cheery yellow centers!!! 
To me then, this tableware embodied everything European, everything which was tasteful and French style.

My first pieces of Villeroy & Boch’s tableware Botanica came from that store ~ a cream and sugar as well as a pair of candlesticks. Before coming back to the States, Ute gifted me with a mustard jar and a trivet. 

The rest of the china pieces I found shortly after Mr. Ethereal and I moved to Southern California at an Ethan Allen store. Later my mother sent us a pound butter dish with snapdragons on it that she ordered through a catalog as well as the heavy Botanica tray (below). 
Part of the Botanica china is used here to hold jam, Devonshire cream, and milk for tea sitting on a Botanica serving tray in the middle of the table. This was a tea I had for a friend from my first tea group, her granddaughter and our son.

We also visited Amsterdam and Alkmaar, Holland when the Gerlach family went on holiday in late June or early July 1981. We had the best time touring by glass boat on the waterways in Amsterdam and swimming in the Nord See (North Sea) during our trip. 

A Visit to France

So with my trip from long ago as inspiration, let’s finish our vicarious visit to France today with  a visit with others. Their travels bring a little French style home to our abodes and to our lives…

Top 10 Things to See & Do Your First Time in Paris/Eiffel tower - So Much Better With Age

Jamie of  So Much Better With Age shared a huge list of Places to visit when you go to Paris, France in this post. I know I appreciate everyone’s travel trips because we all know when we go somewhere new we want to see it all, but often we need to pick and choose since time is usually short. Great post!

Courtney of French Country Cottage went on a mini Grand Tour to Paris last summer and then onto London with her husband. A little work and a little holiday filled with incredible buildings, balconies, flower gardens and the Eiffel Tower she shared with all of her readers! She also hopped over to Italy and you can find more on her blog.  😉

French lavender, wood carved cane-backed chairs, and ruffled linen pillows create a French Country home of your dreams

Closer to home, Judith of Botanic Bleu shared a lovely post with her new French market basket filled with French lavender. She  often shares tips on French styling and early last year she shared a trip to see her sister and the French garden and all her lavender plants at her California home. And then in winter her Spanish lavender decided to bloom!

Winter wishes for French garden vegetables

Garden thoughts and ideas

Judith also shared a list of French vegetables she found available for sale for wintertime planting ~ a little long term thinking for sure with summer just getting here but good to plan for!

And our final French-European style visit today is to Lidy Baars who owns the wonderful business FrenchGardenHouse and is originally from the Netherlands. I met her at Vintage Bliss several years ago in San Diego. She has become a friend and this past summer she traveled to France on a buying trip. This post about making French Country Herb Butter is absolutely heavenly!

I do hope you have enjoyed this little virtual trip to The Continent and to France! Here’s to wonderful memories and future ones…

Bisous, mes amis!


Meet Judith and the Home of Botanic Bleu, Part 1

This past weekend  Judith Stringham who writes the blog Botanic Bleu held her annual French Country Christmas Event (semi-annual sale) inside her lovely garden house next to her home. Friends Laura of Decor to Adore and Cindy of County Road 407 invited me to go with them so off we went! Here is a little photo montage of Judith’s beautiful French country styled home and gardens on the country property she and her husband have here in Texas….

Judith’s French blue garden greenhouse ~ we loved the doors!
How about you? 🙂
Arriving at Judith’s home for the first time, Cindy and I were enchanted with how lovely her home and property are!

Sitting on an acre or more the home reminds me of the last family home I lived in with my parents in Northern California. 

Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore and Cindy 
of County Road 407 infront of Judith’s she-shed.
The Stringham home is a beautiful wooden house surrounded by oak and other trees with meandering brick pathways laid by Judith and her husband over the 30+ years they have lived here.

Judith inside her she shed where so many French style treats were for sale.

Judith began writing her aptly named blog Botanic Bleu in 2012.  Her home and garden are showcased beautifully every time she writes, as this Christmas day post shows from December 2012…

Nöel Niege
During this Christmas season though the day was warm and dry.
Le lapin playfully flits around the garden!

Teuteurs Judith planted in the garden bed add structure and support to plants each year. Arc du bois crabapple orbs sit like pale green Christmas ornaments in a French planter. Rosemary bushes line the bed’s curve.
A view of the rear of the Stringham home with its double decker
French doors and palladian window. Isn’t this a glorious day?!

Sunshine beams in east facing windows flooding the living and dining rooms with wonderful light. French blue is Judith’s signature color and it shines here in her lovely home.

Love this pantry!!!

Topiaries bask in the late fall sunshine. Creamware plates, bowls and pottery enhance this metal shelving unit.

This is a short video I took at Judith’s home. 

Coming off the covered deck, Kitty kept us company as we peeked in the open doorway leading into the living and dining rooms. 
Judith has a green thumb and her rooted ivy cuttings show
her gardening capabilities.
Tomorrow I’ll share more as this post has already run long. We will look inside her greenhouse and check out what’s for sale during Judith’s winter event.

Sharing with
Share Your Style ~ French Ethereal
Hearth and Home ~ April J. Harris

Holiday hugs,

A Victoria-Worthy Tea in the Library

Evening light is beautiful in “The Library” as the living room is now affectionately called. The bookcases are coming along, the corner hutch is filled, and the mantel is decorated for summer.

But today is all about reading, ethereal light and tea…

Victoria is  my favorite magazine of all times ever since my sister-in-law Linnea left a few issues at my mother and father’s new home then in the early 1990’s. I came to visit and found something I didn’t even know I was looking for ~ ethereal photography in a magazine fresh and light and utterly beautiful.

The Library bathed in sunlight is the best place for reading in the late afternoon with its ethereal lighting. Beautiful light ~ a bit overblown but the light changes rapidly as the sun continues its descent beyond the oaks and fence and neighboring home outside.

Capturing a bit of the essence of Victoria’s now retired photographer Toshi Otsuki was the ideal for me…

Just beyond crickets are beginning their evening song. The robins snack at the birdfeeder just hung beyond the windows and Mr. Squirrel scoots around picking up fallen treats along the ground.

Peaceful and airy and dressed in white ~ the Golden Hour has come and one must capture it as best one can…

“Take a break,” the tea table calls to me. 

“Come read a bit and let your heart be free!”

Pulling up a chair I do sit for a bit thumbing and revisiting 
Old Friends…

Sip by sip the tiredness washes away on the dust particles floating by in the waning light.

To be lost and forgotten in a world of one’s imagination…

Sharing with
Feathered Nest Friday ~ French Country Cottage