For the Love of Nöel Bleu ~ A Visit to Judith’s Christmas Sale

Welcome, friends! Today we are taking a Christmas trip to see Judith Stringham at her lovely French-styled home in Mansfield, Texas…

On the first weekend in December, I drove down to visit Judith at the annual Christmas Sales Event she has hosted for 12 years. Each year I see new and inspiring ways we can use to decorate in a French Nordic style…

Love this sweet girl! She reminds me so much of our Stuffy and Tigger, from my high school and early college years.

Her sweet calico cat greeted me as I stepped out of the car and kindly showed me the way back to the potting shed outback. Here Kitty is up on the front walkway to the family home’s front door.

A weird FYI

Notice the *Arc du Bois fruits used as Christmas ornament balls in these urns… Lovely in their limey green skins, these 2-5 lbs. fruits can and do break car windshields when they fall. Here in North Texas, these seed pods can be turned into a petroleum-type product and there was a man near the last trailer park we lived in who bought 50 gal. barrels-full for $10.

*also called horse apples

But I digress…

Down the garden path

Walking around the side and into Judith’s garden, tufts of mondo grass edge the paved walkway guiding us through the park. Old oak trees give the garden really nice structure!

Pink and white lantana (?) or maybe a dwarf butterfly bush decorate this pretty hayrack.

Taking a peek up onto the south-east facing front porch, one can see Judith’s love of French blue, brilliant pops of color brightening up the wintertime porch… She told me she loves blue pansies this time of year!

I love all the conical topiaries she has!!! Tall ivy clamors up a trefoil topped trellis.

Back out along the pathway, an enormous butterfly bush is still blooming in December! Our weather has been so warm, much warmer than usual for North Texas, so many annuals are still going strong coming into the winter season.

The Stringhams have kept much of their acreage as Texas forest which adds a nice layer of privacy from close neighbors.

Judith’s Christmas Potting Shed

Doorways and trim painted a pretty French blue, the double doors welcome us into Judith’s world, Botanic Bleu… I personally love the contrast of textures outdoors! The potting shed’s white limestone walls, the rustic wood decking contrast nicely with the brick pathways. Fallen leaves nestle into cracks and crevices, adding their own brand of texture to the scene…

Let’s check out what’s for sale!

This pretty bowl filled with juniper greenery caught my eye. I loved the pretty gilded cage topper. Of course this came home with me along with six horse apples to decorate the inside. The pretty birdcage to the right also came home. 😉

Stepping inside, a tiny office is set up snugged underneath this hanging area. As I write this, I just noticed the silver urn with a little bird on top along the front wall shelf… Always so much to see!

Looking further right, large scrolls of sheet music lend their beautiful backdrop behind Pêre Nöels…

A lovely nativity scene decorated the middle of the room with a deeper French blue…

Judith creates this large wall hangings with her signature fleur de lis in the background.

This year she has added English boxwood hearts to her collection of boxwood for sale. Last year she had large and small round boxwood wreaths, and I bought one then. This day, I picked up one more to decorate our hallway.

Airy glass ornaments and icicles hang from the rafters, on Christmas trees and in front of some windows. Judith has candles and Old World style candleholders, mini narcissus bulbs, and more gilded wire garden cloches for sale.

Out in the Garden

Back outside, Kitty is back for another pet. She is just a beauty!

This year, this outdoor patio hosts a collection of potted plants. I love the basket weave pot! Judith’s sister helps take care of the garden, her special gift.

Here I think Judith “planted” some of the faux narcissus bulbs… Pretty!!!
Love this urn! I believe the little garden shed in the background is her husband’s workshop.

If you’d like to see more…

2019 Part 1 touring Judith’s garden and home ~ Meet Judith and the Home of Botanic Bleu.
A Bleu Christmas ~ Part 2 of the 2019 pre-Covid visit with friends Cindy of County Road 407 and Laura from Decor to Adore.

Last year’s Christmas event ~ A Christmas Visit with Judith and Botanic Bleu

Well, friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed these Christmas visits with Judith and seeing her pretty French country home! She is very gracious and I always wish there’d be time to just sit and visit (we do, but it’s while shopping). 🙂 Hopefully soon!

Happy Christmas time,

Barb 🙂


Places to Visit ~ Marcum’s Nursery, Oklahoma

Happy springtime, dear friends! It is wonderful to see early budding trees here in North Texas blossoming after the super cold of this winter ~ the fruitless pears are just putting on their magnificent canopies of white, the redbuds are beginning their blooms, too…

And today I’m sharing a nursery visit to a place I KNOW I will go back to… As I went up for my first Covid-19 vaccination, I chose the Chickasaw Nation’s healthcare site in Ardmore, Oklahoma as much for the vaccine but also for a little road trip (because I need to get out!) and to see if I could find some interesting garden centers. 🙂

Mr. Ethereal went with me taking the day off and after an hour+ getting the vaccine and waiting to see if I had any reaction (I didn’t then but did end up with all the usual things the emails said you will get: headaches, body aches, tired and sleeping a lot, sore arm, some swelling there, and after three days I feel pretty well back to normal. Well after a lunch at the local Carl’s Jr. (to get a burger which feels like “home” in California), we went on “an adventure!”

Marcum’s Nursery, 25 N. Rockford Road, Ardmore, OK 73401

We found Marcum’s Nursery in Ardmore, Oklahoma…

Their website is cute and even has a fun jingle at the bottom of the home page, if you head over to check it out. I highly recommend the Ardmore location! It reminds me of California even with the dry grasses, pine trees and just wide open prairie spaces (more in Northern California in the foothills of my teenage years).

There hasn’t been as much rain this winter so the grasses aren’t as green as I’d seen last year in late spring, but the plants at the garden center more than made up for the lack of green along the freeway! I liked that the plants available at Marcum’s are different than what I have found at our local garden centers here in Denton County, Texas. 🙂

And that’s exactly what I was looking for!

“You got gum-gum?”

As you come up to park, this Easter Island character was the first thing I spied and he made me laugh! Ever seen Night at the Museum? Watch it if you haven’t.

I won’t spoil the fun!

Just as you turn left from the main roadway into the property, there is a stand of set-in fruit and other trees. They are “set in,” if you’ve never seen this before (which I haven’t but it makes sense) to protect the tree roots from freezing to death during the negative temperatures Oklahoma prairies can experience ~ like this crazy year with the Arctic winds we had brought Oklahoma’s temps down to -16 or so.

So nurseries obviously want to protect their investments and then they are easy to dig up when it’s time to sell the trees to customers. Works for summer watering, too, as I think I spy irrigation drip hoses. 🙂

I loved seeing all the crocks and pots right out front! There were soooo many to look at and I could have spent a fortune… I did bring one home which had two prices on it: $20 and $39.95. It was only $20!

I forgot to ask the price of the long rectangular terracotta trough with the swags on the sides, but no matter. I go back in less than 21 days for Round 2 of the vaccine! Maybe I can stop back by… 😉

Seriously, though, Marcum’s has a nice selection which is different than what is available here in Texas. I am missing what we had available in California and my thought was to look somewhere different for better pottery. Nice place and good finds! I’d think you’d enjoy stopping by on a roadtrip up HW 35 North (eventually HW 29 further north) on your way to or from the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, or up from Texas.

Marcum’s had a few cement tables and benches with separate feet for the garden. They also had iron trellises and plant stands…

I stayed within my $200 budget (the plant stand was $55, I think, and the Otsuma orange tree was $65), and have a good selection of plants to put out to replace some that didn’t make it with the extreme snows, the cold and ice storms.

Can you guess the two tall plants? They are wonderfully scented when brushed up against! I think the squirrels will be lovingly sporting a new scent this spring… citronella. These are cintronella and should self-seed.

I also brought home another sweet heuchera, that can just be seen at the very back behind the plant stand. I picked up a couple of other bulb plants and I’ll share them later.

Little oranges are just beginning to form where flowers have been pollinated…

Well that’s it for today’s visit! I hope you’ve enjoyed this delightful garden center tour at the Ardmore location of Marcum’s Nursery. They have four locations including one up in Oklahoma City (another 1 1/2 hours north).

I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures inside the store or the greenhouse (it was HOT inside!) but that’s where all these plants were found. I was too busy looking around. 😉 You can see inside the greenhouse on their website here.

Happy gardening, friends!



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!


Places to Shop ~ A Visit to Emporium 1905

Emporium 1905 is located down in the heart of Corsicana, Texas, in the revamped old-town district. It is a treasure trove of fun goods to wear and home decor goodies to add to your home. I will be heading down to Corsicana this weekend for an IOOF event and will definitely be stopping by! Let’s see what I found for you this past fall…

Emporium 1905 is fun vintage dress and housewares shop owned by two sisters who have went in business together after both retired from their previous lives. Finding themselves a little bored with retirement, they decided to open their shop five years ago to meet new people and do something fun. The name itself comes from the age of the building when it first opened.

Emporium 1905
323 N. Beaton Street
Corsicana, Texas 75110

Located next to another favorite shop I found last time I was down in Corsicana ~ Victorian Sample Florist (and jeweler) ~ and also talked about in this other post ~ Tom’s Secret GardenEmporium 1905 holds all kinds of vintage dresses, hats and shoes for anyone looking to dress up for a special occasion!

Of course there is a good selection of Texas goodies in amongst the mid-century canning jars, books, embroidered tea towels, bakeware and such. I love stores like this, don’t you? They are fascinating to browse and you just never know what will strike your fancy and have to “come home!”

Look at the chickens!!! I still love chickens ever since my grandmother
Helen had so many lined up above her kitchen counters…

The two sisters also have a surprise Christmas room!

Christmas anytime of year? Yes, please!

I know many of us love vintage Christmas decor so this is a must-stop shop for you if you are ever down this way. I found those little cotton elves like my mother used to collect plus vintage Golden Books with Christmas themes for children (and adults!). 

Just look at this sweet Santa! “Take me home!” I clearly heard him say…

On this day I found a 1950’s style hat for my friend Laura and a pressed metal scrolled vanity mirror to use in our bathroom.

If you are ever in the area, do stop by! These two ladies are a hoot and know much about the history of the area. They will also gladly tell you about the goods they pass onto you.

Sharing with
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Friday at the Fire House ~ A Fireman’s Wife

Happy spring to you, my friend!

A Bleu Christmas…

Hello there! Welcome back for part 2 of my visit to the lovely French country style home and gardens (and THE cutest gardenhouse ~ shown above ~ and she shed!) of my friend
Judith Stringham who writes the blog Botanic Bleu

A couple of days ago I shared Part 1 of my visit with Cindy of County Road 407 and Laura of Decor to Adore to visit another of our friends whom I met that first Christmas here in 2016 ~ Judith Stringham. 

I had never been to Judith’s French Country Christmas Event at her home in Mansfield, Texas before but I knew she held one each December for all of her friends. Judith is a retired teacher and administrator in her local school district, and this holiday sales event brings all of her friends together for a visit and some fun French country shopping!

Me and Cindy outside Judith’s adorable French country blue and limestone brick/stone garden shed transformed into her shop twice a year. Oh! There are those super big pinecones peeking out from behind Cindy on that little garden étagere. 

Judith is all about French country style (my absolute favorite style, as you know!) so I thought I’d share the rest of the fun photographs today that I took last weekend. 

I seriously wanted this urn… And those large round marble cheese platters…
And those glittery Christmas trees…

These pics were taken inside the garden she shed I shared in the last post (Judith’s wintertime photo of her garden from a number of years ago), and since then she and her husband built a gorgeous large greenhouse (of which I have serious greenhouse envy…) which sits just to the left and stepped back from the shed.

I will share that in a moment… 😉

So here we are inside!

Laura is checking out all the wonderful little French christmas and non-Christmas soaps and goodies decorated with foxes, bears and “les lapins.”

A better picture of Laura with Cindy… 🙂

Judith lovingly curated blue and white crockery, blue and white napkins, bespoke linen Christmas tea towels and also ones for everyday use, custom silverware, French country angels, small etchings and prints straight from France for us gardeners and decorators to use in our homes alike. 

Three of Judith’s friends from her former school district were there at the same time as we were and were squabbling (just a bit) over two large Christmas angels. (I think they worked it out!)   *<;)

Large angels were for sale and some furniture pieces(alas, no room!), as well as birdcages, holiday tins, gift bags and greenery and huge pinecones (Laura’s favorites!).

I am sure Judith made this dried boxwood Christmas tree. I bought a small dried
boxwood wreath to hang at home while here (shown above hanging on the mirror).

I found several things to bring back to our French country home and I will share them over the next week or so. One is this little Santa Belsnickel glinting in the sunlight here… And the small boxwood wreath…

Judith cleverly hung her tea towels on this copper railing below this tin garden sink. Her regular curtains hide soil and pottery the rest of the year. The butcher block counters are wonderful and cost effective (we used one $40 piece from Home Depot back in California to make our tv stand/storage unit in our master bedroom) and this gives me wonderful ideas for a future garden shed at our Texas home!

The white painted pieces across the top of the television and underneath it were butcher block pieces we cut to fit and painted. Very solid and sturdy, they make excellent non-warping shelving to hold a lot of weight around the home. Plus butcher block is beautiful in the kitchen! You can see more of our last home in this post here.

I would love to have shown you more but other people were shopping and I didn’t want to intrude. Here is Judith looking lovely in a custom-made scarf she won from another blogger she knows in France who curates and sells boxes to people who are Francophiles…

Seriously, from baskets to metal birdcages of varying shapes, to Santas and more… I could have dropped several hundred dollars without a thought. 

Laura, Cindy and I oggled over these French blue doors Judith made from
four French iron gate closures, decorative buttons, and sheets of thick plywood.

Let’s check out the greenhouse!

 The greenhouse is lovely with its French blue doors leading inside a bright and airy area to store tender plants during Texas’ super cold winters. This winter so far is pretty mild which is wonderful for gardening but not so good for next summer’s crop of nasty  biting no-see-um mites (Texas needs the super cold ~ around 0 degrees Fahrenheit ~ to kill the biting bugs off).

This is the reverse view looking back towards the house from the greenhouse. The interlocking brick pathways had me at hello!

Here is a close up of one of the lovely French doors…

And a couple of peeks inside… Nice thick mats to stand on for foot comfort and wraps for tender plants. Love it!

You know me and chandeliers!!! Here you can just see this beauty peeping out in the sunlight above the back double French doors…

ooh la la!!!

Another lovely view… I hope Judith will share sometime where she found all these French doors. What a lovely place to come and pot plants or to just sit…

A few looks more from the Stringhams’ veranda which wraps around their home looking back towards the garden shed and acreage.

I love this old French garden bench crafted from a gate or iron headboard with its watering can and planted evergreens… 

Etherealness at its finest!

Sharing with
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Friday at the Fire Station ~ A Fireman’s Wife

Holiday hugs,

Places to Shop ~ Victorian Sample Florist, Corsicana

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of a day off and an afternoon free to explore in Old Town Corsicana, Texas. That day I visited three shops: a thriftstore, the shop next door named Emporium 1905 (an upcoming post!), and this incredible florist shop named Victorian Sample Florist. Let’s step inside…

Victorian Sample Florist
325 N. Beaton St.
Corsicana, Texas 75110

Very southern, elegant, classic and French, this jewel of a shop was such a find which I am totally happy to share with you! The inviting exterior with its potted plants are what drew me indoors and once inside… 

Eye candy in the form of rentable chandeliers for events, incredibly beautiful handmade jewelry created by shop owner Tom Adams himself, plus ethereal urns, glassware for creating stunning floral arrangements, small statues, candles and some antiques gobsmacked me as soon as I stepped inside!

Gorgeous pieces all one of a kind… Very upper left pink necklace is made
from pink coral. The two lowest necklaces on the table and to the right
are made of tiger eye.
Mr. Adams’ necklaces, earrings and bracelets are made from semi-precious stones, metal bits and bobs, and only the finest Swarovski crystals. Created for a clientele looking for something as unique as they are, Mr. Adams’ pieces are one-of-a-kind. I found several pink jade and pink coral pieces which reminded me of the necklace my grandmother Helen bought me when we went to Maui as a child with my mother.
Recently I shared the gardens Mr. Adams began putting in alongside his shop since Victorian Sample opened in 1986. A destination visit to this florist shop/jewelry store/antiques shop and gardens is worth a drive through Corsicana.

Mr. Adams has “done events for” both Presidents Bush as well as President Clinton, according to the bio on the Victorian Sample Florist website, and it shows. I was blown away at how beautifully curated this store is decorated and the florals in the back being put together for an upcoming wedding were simply stunning. I am sorry I didn’t get a photograph of them for you!

This stuffed peacock caught my eye with its bird’s nest light positioned just above it and that’s when I asked if it would be alright to take some photographs. Unfortunately this peacock was the reason why I didn’t capture any of the bouquets… 

Our summer mantel with its peacock feathers.

This is just one photograph from the post I wrote
called Tom’s Secret Garden in Corsicana.
I love peacocks and their feathers and somehow I got busy talking with the store manager (who was a lovely southern gentleman who didn’t wish to have his photograph taken, a shame!) and he told me about Mr. Adams creating the gardens when the shop was quiet over the years.

Between just admiring all the jewelry (the tiger eye and baroque pearl necklaces captured my attention!), the chandies, the hand-painted floor with its green and yellow pinwheel design and the French style furniture… Well, I was on sensory overload… But in a good way!

Rich dark moody jewel tones played splendidly with the chandeliers’ light bouncing around the room. Music played softly in the background as I recall and the whole atmosphere left one feeling relaxed and comfortable ~ perfect for anyone stopping by to choose and arrangement or a lovely necklace for an upcoming event. 

Brides-to-be would instantly be put at ease to choose from Victorian Sample Florist’s selection of faux or real blooms.

Just look at this gorgeous tiger eye and wooden shell piece!

I did find a pretty bauble to bring home with me… Mr. Adams calls his jewelry “lost treasures” and I’d have to agree. Chunky necklaces have been calling my name and I haven’t any before this piece… Plus you know I love pearls! 

(I am justifying, I know!)

The Fair Maiden will be happy…


Love love love the Renaissance and Steam Punk style of
this chunky necklace which is why it came home with me.

My friend Laura whom many of you know from her blog Decor to Adore invited me to the DFW Costumers Guild’s next get-together and it is to be a Marie Antoinette-themed event. 

I think this will fit the bill if I hurry up and finish the green dress…

When you come to the DFW area sometime, do make the hour+ detour south of Dallas to Corsicana on your way to Houston or Galveston to visit The Victorian Sample Florist and the other shops of Old Town Corsicana. The area is up and coming and I know you’ll enjoy the hospitality of the people here and find something unique to take home for yourself!

Sharing with


Spring Garden Planning… 10 on the 10th

Spring is  just beginning around the country and here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area local nurseries are selling spring annuals already. These beautiful vermillion-red ruffled tulips are just a part of my 
spring planting plans..
Welcome to this month’s 10 on the 10th which is all about spring! Hosting this month is my friend Benita of Chasing Quaintness. Thank you, Benita!!! If you are coming over from Ann at Apple Street Cottage or are here at French Ethereal for the first time ~ welcome! I am so glad you are here. 

Let’s go check out the new house’s backyard…

Here is our new backyard… 

Pretty much a clean slate with two oak trees to shade our house from the summer’s western afternoon sun.
I am very grateful for all the shade these big guys will give us however Mr. Ethereal and I see a need to thin these guys just a bit (and their friends out front) so we can grow some grass. 

Our inspector showed us a few branches to cut back completely to help prevent oak leaves and acorns from filling the gutters on the south and east sides of the house. There is a little dry rot along the eaves but this is an easy fix with a few new boards ~ part of the fixes we will be doing later this year and into next fall and winter. 

This is the first time we will actually have big shade trees
already established in our yard!

Moving the shed over to the left side of the yard is one of the things we’d like to do this spring as this is the current view one sees from our master bedroom ~ not really the prettiest focal point. 

Definitely keeping the shed though as we need the storage for garden tools and lawn equipment.

We are already looking at much bigger sheds to house our shop equipment too as we hope to actually park cars in our garage here ~ Denton does receive some pretty big hail once in a while.

Here is a shed I found recently while shopping down at Costco in Lewisville. This is the Aberdeen model at 12’w x 8’long (deep). Other sizes are available and we may end up going with one of these ~ Hubby is looking at all kinds of sheds online.

He is thinking we will need one of the biggest models carried at 16’w x 10-12′ deep. This will house our Shopsmith, a 1960’s-1970’s drill press, our router and scroll saw which are bolted to their own stands plus a couple of other tables and tool chests. It’ll be a proper workshop and not a “she-shed.”

Oh, and Hubby thinks the weight bench might have to go in here, too…

There won’t be room. Ha!

One of my first posts back in 2014 ~ Fall Furniture Redo.

Basically this will take the place of the third car garage section we had back at our last house. We will need it! You can see our Shopsmith in the background with another saw sitting on top.

A look inside and at the flooring and roofing finishes available.
Part of making this shed fit into the garden will be to add evergreens around it and plant little gardens in front and beside the double doors. I know Charles would like to have this near the garage for ease of moving all the tools into it, so it may end up replacing the current shed in its location.

At least it would be cuter and I can make it prettier with paint!

Mr. Yoda will certainly be excited to have his own yard again! He hasn’t seen the yard yet as I write this but will soon. He will be happy checking out the local squirrels and smells from the previous owner’s small Yorkie. I did take Yoda over the first day we had the keys so he could see why we’ve been pulling our belongings out of the trailer ~ he wandered throughout the rooms checking them out. Finally he settled in the new living room and took a nap on the soft carpet. Ahhhhhh!
I will be planting a few rose bushes and making a small garden area right under our bedroom window. The roses blooming outside will make for a pretty view and will grow quickly. The David Austin roses I already have in pots will move into the backyard to be joined later by more roses.

Our last home’s backyard garden ~ full of Japanese Wintergreen boxwood, climbing New Dawn rose on the arbor and rose standards. This garden was put
in in 2006 when we built the pool and this photo was shot when the garden was
eight or nine years old, 2014 or 2015.

I am thinking of creating another English garden with a lot of greenery including boxwoods and topiaries ~ they do well in this climate of hot and humid summers then cold and dry winters

My little evergreen juniper topiary which I found last fall at our local Calloway’s.

Linda Vater who lives and writes The Potager Blog from her 1935 Tudor home in Oklahoma City, just a couple of hours north of us, shares all about caring for boxwoods plus creating topiaries from them.

I hope to glean some much needed inspiration from her posts and others since our Texas soil is sooo different from the drier clay soil I knew in So Cal.

And those tulips?

They will be an ongoing part of beautifying the front yard around the oak trees ~ I’ve seen trees with spring bulbs planted around them and I love how the bulbs spread over time!


A Quick Peek ~ My First Craigslist Find!

Just a quick post today ~ sharing a first look at the beautiful tea/library table I found on Craigslist this past week…

A picture I posted on my Instagram feed, lol! {Couldn’t wait!} 😉
A bit nervous to answer a Craigslist add but boldly I braved the rainy weather and nerves and came away with this lovely library/tea table for what I thought was a good price.

I had just read Courtney’s post over at French Country Cottage about staying safe when contracting business with people you have never met through the internet, specifically Craigslist, so I felt pretty good about going to see this table.

This French Provincial table is a married piece with a  carved walnut base and stretcher {which I totally love!} and an oak top. Whomever remade the tabletop did a nice job distressing it and routering the edges to make it look as close as it would have to the original walnut top piece.  

This photograph taken last winter at our California storage units. You can see the French commode I picked up in San Juan Capistrano in 1991 with my deaf brother (we were visiting the mission there) is sandwiched between the cedar trunk my father refinished when he and my mother were first married (original finish still) and a 1990’s era rolltop desk.

Maybe the original walnut top was falling apart or badly damaged ~ I know my French commode, which I use as my bedroom dresser, needs re-gluing every so often. I did the drawers a few years ago when we were still in California.

I am happy that the base to this tea table/library table was saved and a new top fashioned! This is too lovely a piece to throw out…

In any case, I am excited about this sweet table and it will be one of the first pieces of furniture in our new house!

Do come back tomorrow for a “Spot of Tea Alfresco” as I share more of this beautiful Craigslist tea table with you all for Valentine’s Day… ;)’

*Share Your Style will be up later today, too, so please stop back by to see what’s new and share your latest posts! Thanks! 

And if you haven’t stopped by 10 on the 10th I hope you will!

Sharing with

Hugs to you,

$10 Thriftshop Challenge ~ A Couple of New Pieces

Today is  another $10 thriftshop challenge day here at French Ethereal and as you probably already know I love heading out and seeing what’s out there at the thrift stores!

This week  I found this lovely cut glass bowl with beautiful deep carvings and a lovely serrated and  scalloped edge for a mere $4.00. I think I may have shared this story before but it’s worth sharing again.

My great-grandmother Julia Foley collected lots of cut-glass back in the early 1900’s ~ during the time when Americans were taxed on how many things they owned {or on certain things they owned, I’m not entirely sure on this point).

Julia ended up having to sell all but four of her cut-glass pieces to pay the taxes. She kept one for each of her children to have later on. A bigger bowl similar to this one was handed down to my grandmother Helen, who handed it down to my mother Ginny sometime in the late1960’s or early 1970’s.

It always held blown and dyed eggs during Easter and pinecones or colorful glass ornaments at Christmas each year. It was just part of my memories of home as far back as I can remember.

Love the swirls and little star cuts in this glass bowl!
 Mom then handed it down to me back during one of my visits to their last home in Connecticut in the mid-1990’s sometime. I have loved it ever since and I think both of them will look lovely this next Christmas holding colorful vintage ornaments,
don’t you?

Trying out different plates and bowls while at Twice As Nice thriftstore.
The second piece I found was really the first found ~ this lovely silverplate chafing dish made by Raimond Silver Manufacturing Company  The company began manufacturing silverplate wares in the early 1960’s and later was “acquired by W. and S. Blackington, Co.” in 1966.

The Raimond hallmark is plainly seen on this leg. This pretty chafing dish is in mint condition with no scratches and little tarnishing on it. I believe it may have a lacquer coating on it to protect the finish.

This silver dish cost only $6.00 and I thought the two pieces were good bargains!  I plan to use the two together and separately.  My first thought was to use this silver chafing dish in our new master bathroom to hold towels rolled up between the two lavatory bowls…

Until then… these two thriftshop finds will grace our Prairie Home and decorate our window quite nicely!

Joining a merry band of goodies looking beautiful
for Valentine’s…

Day or night.

What fun thriftshop finds have come home
with you lately?

Sharing with
Sweet Inspiration ~ The Boondock’s Blog

Happy weekend,