Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Garden Visits . . . The Beginning

I've been thinking about expanding my French Country blog from once to twice a week. 
I'll still write about French Country decor on Fridays;
this will be my first post about my garden. 
I hope you'll stop by each Tuesday for a visit on My Garden Visits.

(Can you spot the little visitor in my garden below?)

I like to think of gardening as an extension of my creative spirit in my home. 
It spills out the French door onto the patio and into the garden 
like my yard-sale treasures tumble into my home on weekends. 
It's that same creative urge that speaks to me in the plant nursery and says, "Take me home."

I may start out with a plan for my garden but then that spirit taps me on the shoulder 
and whispers, "Why not try something different?" 
And so I dig out a butterfly bush and move it to another spot. 
It will get more sun there, I tell myself, fingers crossed it will survive the move.

That garden spirit whispering in my ear is my father. 
My love of gardening came from my Dad 
even though I didn't recognize it until much later after he was gone.

It's hard to picture him now without seeing him kneeling in the dirt, 
a grin on his tan face, as he holds a fresh baby eggplant. 
Like a new father, he is proud of what he's produced. 
I can just hear him shout, "Hey, look what I made!"

My father died on Good Friday fourteen years ago. 
Maybe that's why my thoughts turn to him this time of year and I invite him for a garden visit. 
His gentle presence is always with me in the garden, letting me know he's proud of me 
for the woman I've become and for my stewardship of all living things in my garden.

I didn't know I'd become a gardener (my sister inherited the green thumb) 
but somehow that latent love of the earth burst forth in me 
like spring bulbs pushing up through the wet, soggy ground. 
And over the years, it's become a bit of an obsession, giving me purpose and rebirth each year. 

Now, as spring approaches and the ground warms, I kneel in my garden and say, 
"Hey Dad, look what I made!"

Thanks to everyone who checked in on me during the
Great Denver Blizzard four days into Spring.
Yes, we were smack in the middle of it and got about 16 inches!
But no broken limbs (in the trees or on the body)!
Now, if I could just find my plants.

Linking with:
Bella Rosa AntiquesElizabeth and Co.Savvy Southern StyleKnick of TimeMaison de Pax,
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. OlsonA Delightsome LifeThe Vintage NestPoofing the Pillows,
Peonies and Orange BlossomsAdirondack Girl at HeartRooted in ThymeCharm of Home,
French Country CottageShabby Art BoutiqueThe Cottage MarketShabby Fu FuThoughts from AliceOur Southern HomeRustic & RefinedDwellingsBetween Naps on the Porch,
Cozy Little HouseCoastal CharmCedar Hill Farmhouse

Friday, March 25, 2016

~~ Spring Changes in the French Country Dining Room ~~

It's Spring! Time for a fresh new look in my French Country dining room.

My dining room in winter seemed a little spare 
with only vintage mirrors and an old farmhouse mantle on the wall.
I love how light and airy it is but . . .

I'm always looking for ways to make it better.

I've been wanting to move the green chippy cabinet so it would be more visible.
So, I slid it across the floor to the left side of the mantle and tucked it into that narrow space.

After I put my old medicine cabinet on top of it and added some ironstone, 
it filled the space perfectly.

The chippy paint added some yummy texture to the neutral wall . . .

and the cabinet is much handier now -- storing napkins, old tablecloths, vases and candles.

The other side of the mantle looked a bit lonely so I moved a plant stand from the foyer 
to the dining room and placed a sweet little basket on top of a linen scarf.

Looks like it's ready for a picnic in the country!

Flowers in a silver pitcher warm the space and bring the outdoors in.

The sun streams into this room for my morning cup of coffee. 

My latest Goodwill find . . . this fabulous "frenchy" straw hat. 
Love the black ribbon. Ooh la la!

A few small changes on the mantle included ironstone butter pats to hold candles.

And here's the French Country dining room with a spring update.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old Books Tell More than a Story

What is it about old books?
It's that intangible quality that speaks of character and history and people from another time.
Old books add instant charm and warmth to a room no matter what style it is.

People laugh when I tell them I love the way old books smell. 
Musty. Moldy. Glue and ink and old paper. A hint of vanilla or coffee, perhaps.

Water-stained pages with crumbly edges. Upright or reclining on their sides.

I love those old books with tattered cloth covers or worn leather bindings.

And especially those books with etched or unusual covers. 
Some are classic, others a bit risque for the times.

Those with intricate leather covers and gilt-edged pages are my favorites.

Old books are perfect for elevating a display

or complementing a silver piece on a mantle or in a bookcase.

Many old books have lovely writing inside their covers. 

I have my mother's old school dictionary filled with scribbles and hearts. 
I cherish this one.

You never know what you might find in an old tome you buy for a dollar at an estate sale.
I recently bought a book that was stuffed with 1950s Betsy McCall cutouts, 
complete with outfits for every occasion.

Sometimes you might discover a pressed flower or leaf and wonder why it was special.

I love to group vintage books with similar covers for an "old library" look. 

And the ads on the back page are a peek into an age long gone.
It's that timeworn quality that gives books a rich feeling of our past.

Old books belong to another time but they've definitely found a home today . . . with me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

~~ A Little Corner of France in Colorado ~~

On the Road . . .

You probably wouldn't expect to find an incredible French decor shop in northeastern Colorado,

where silos and corn fields blanket the prairie and the Rockies rise up on the western horizon.

But I discovered one, or actually, two shops in the small town of Eaton.
This whole town is about two square miles and is home to around 5,000 people. 
The main street here is wide enough for a team of horses to turn around in 
and the men wear cowboy boots. I love it.

But the jewel of this little town are these two shops around the corner from each other, 
both with the same owner and both named The French Corner. 

I love the drive up from Denver and the feel of the small farm towns as you approach Eaton.
Then, you turn the corner and there it is.

You walk in the door and you're transported to France!

There is a lovely mix of vintage, antique and reproduction items that all blend harmoniously. 

It's fun to stroll through these shops and notice how items are displayed.
I always borrow a few ideas on how to apply some of these displays in my own home. 

If you're in this neck of the woods, it's definitely worth the drive
(a little more than an hour north of Denver. Check online for hours.)

With beautiful shops like The French Corner,
you can bring a bit of French Country to your home no matter where you live.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Yearning for Spring

This time of year, we're all starting to think about our gardens and outdoor living.
Spring is my favorite time of year--a time of rebirth and growth
and warm sun on my back. 

But when I look at my garden now in March, it's all brown, and crunchy, and dead-looking. 
Can I even recognize that stick of a shrub or identify that sad clump of plants?

Not much I can do about it now except start planning for spring 
and remember what it looked like last year. 
Ahh...that's better. 

I hope everything survived the winter.  
Spotting the fresh green growth of tulips and crocus blooms
poking through a layer of dead leaves is good for my soul. 

I feel relieved when I see that my favorite perennials have made it through the cold months. 
Tight buds on trees and shrubs tell me winter is on its way out and spring is near.
Honestly, this time of year everything changes so quickly, I can almost watch it grow.

My garden is all about simple pleasures. 
Early mornings are a special time when it's quiet and dreamy. 
I might hear an occasional car door close as neighbors head off to work 
or squirrels clawing the fence as they chase each other back and forth.
But, usually, morning is a tranquil time for reflection and planning my day.

Stepping outside first thing on a chilly spring morning with a cup of steaming coffee in hand, 
I walk around the garden, making mental notes of what I want to plant or change.
Think I'll move the birdbath, widen the river-biscuit path through the flowers
and plant something tall like delphiniums or larkspur against the rock wall. 

I sip my coffee as I listen to the chicadees waking up around me.
Their little song, chic-a-dee-dee-dee, welcomes spring. 
They're always the first birds to return to the garden as the air warms.  
Can flickers be far behind,
tapping their noisy love songs on metal chimneys like tiny jackhammers?

One thing I can do while it's still too cold to do any gardening, is re-think the patio.
I want to re-design this small space to give it a French Country feel.
Maybe some trimmed boxwood in my two big pots, a string of twinkly lights, 
 repositioning the wall fountain, a shuffle of furniture, new cushions, an outdoor rug ...
oh, lots of ideas and I can't wait to get started.

I've heard gardening teaches us patience.
Guess I'm still learning. 

I know we can still get snow in March (and even April) but the end of winter is in sight.