Thank You, May!

blossomsThank you, May!  Thank you for the sunshine.  Thank you for the flowers.  Thank you for the singing birds, and thank you for warmer temperatures.  It’s been a long cold winter into spring, but we’re not looking back!  Thank you May for bringing our guests.  Yes, we are very thankful for YOU, our guests!

May is the end of our ninth year in business!  Ten years ago we hosted our first guest in group awaythe B&B, so we are taking time to appreciate all those who have crossed our threshold into this wonderful historic house to take a reprieve from their lives.  Our guests travel for so many reasons; visiting family and friends, celebrating weddings, researching their roots, enjoying the wonderful outdoors, or just to get away.  We have met wonderful people, made new friends and enjoyed every minute of hosting you, our guests.

Our guests have helped us along the way.  Most of our guests love where they live, and are happy to share things to do and places to see in their area.  They have traveled to beautiful and fun places. Both of these conversations add to our bucket list of travel.  Guests have given us encouragement. They enjoy looking at our eclectic collections of decorations and antiques. They want to know about the comfortable beds and bedding. Guests have taught us how to provide more comfort. They like the fluffy towels.  They remark about the top shelf bath amenities, and locally made soap.   They enjoy lanchgsnuggling under the warm, weighty duvets.   Guests have given us ideas for the breakfast table. They enjoy our old and new recipes for their breakfast.   Repeat guests make requests for a previous dish.  They ask for recipes. They tell us about healthy eating.  They appreciate our ability to cook for allergy or specialty diets.

There are so many reasons we appreciate our guests.  There are so many reasons we love being innkeepers.  We hope that we are able to continue to make our guests feel at home.  We hope we have a chance to see you soon and demonstrate our appreciation for YOU, our guests.

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On the Positive Side

Hello February! Depending on where you live this means you’re on the down side of sunsethomewinter.  In Northeast Pennsylvania we enjoy the later sunsets and additional daylight.  My guess is, however, that the groundhog will see his shadow and we’ll be in for six more weeks of winter.  Personally, I don’t mind more snow, in reasonable amounts, but I don’t need subzero temps or strong north winds.

While there are winter activities to enjoy even without snow; skiing Elk, ice skating, tubing, and more.There is also indoor entertainment to enjoy as well.  Crystal Cabin Fever starts this month, eagle watching along the Delaware (tour bus or in your car), music at the Cooperage, new exhibits at Dorchester antiques, riding the Stourbridge Line, and so much more.  

Here at the inn we have been using the “stay inside” winter weather to work on those long needed projects that tend to build up while “you’re napping”!  Warren finally decided he would hire a company to sand and refinish our hardwood floors in our quarters.  It was a busy week as all furniture had to be removed from the room, wallfloor décor removed and our bedroom couldn’t be accessed. While the furniture is out it’s the perfect time to touch up paint, fix holes, and dust all the corners, shelves, etc. I guess it should be considered fun, too, as we had to stay at a B&B for a week!

Meanwhile, I took the time to go through some of the magazines and photos that definitely had been pushed aside or shoved into drawers.  I also cooked and jarred four new jellies and jams.  The sweet aromas helped to lessen the varnish smells. It really is nicer to make jam in January, warming up the kitchen at a cold time of year.  jelliesWhen the fruit was ripe in July and August I didn’t have the time to prepare for the jams. Freezing the fruit to store for later was the better option. So this worked out perfectly.  In case you are wondering, added to the other flavors, we now have; bumbleberry, cherry, black raspberry and josta berry, and autumn cranberry pear.

 

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He is Born!

For Unto Us a Child is Born!nativity“Hark the Herald Angels Sing”angels on highSing we NOEL!noel

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You Know Who’s Coming!

fabric santaYou better watch out,

You better not cry,

You better not pout,

I’m telling you why,

Santa Claus is coming to town!santa shines

He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake,

he sees youHe knows if you been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake!stylin santassitting big santaAnd just a few more…collection of santasBack in time…turn of centruy santa“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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The Wall says it All

magicWhen visitors look around at the inn, they will find that even the walls decide it’s the Christmas season.  There is cheer in the Gathering Room, asking you to “believe” in the magic.  There aresanta throw Christmas plates, fabric quiltings,  and a Santa tapestry.

plates

 

 

 

The kitchen boasts a collection of kitchen gadgets and other replicas of Santa.  kitchen wall

But some of our favorite seasonal wall decorating is accomplished with print material. If you have been to a wonderful Christmas attraction making a collage of photos can not only add Christmas spirit to your decorations, but you’ll also have your memories of that experience close to sight and heart.  These are some of our favorite photos from Longwood Gardens at Christmas time.  Longwood Gardens is open year round and is located near Philadelphia, PA.wall collageAnother favorite is a series of prints from an original 1950′s story book given to good little children who sat on Santa Claus’ lap in Pomeroy’s Department Store in Reading.  It is depicting “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.night beforeOf course there is always a unique treasure that we hold dear.  In our case it’s a picture made by our grandchildren, with those little hands and feet.child art

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A Wreath Upon the Door

There is no beginning, there is no end.  The wreath has significant meaning for the season. It’s circular shape represents eternity. From a Christian religious perspective, it represents an unending circle of life, eternity or life never ending.reflection

The evergreen, most frequently used in making wreathes, symbolizes growth and everlasting life.  A live wreathsimple wreath, greens and a bow.

Some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory.

In Christianity, the Christmas wreath was used to symbolize Christ. The circular shape, with no beginning or end.lighted wreath

fabricWreaths at the James Manning House can be found in a variety of materials.  Some favorites are homemade, fabric squares and cinnamon sticks, while another is a grapevine wreath wrapped in ribbon with a simple small embellishment, and another is a wreath made from bells to add a festive ring to the air.bellsgrapevine2

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O Christmas Tree Part 1

Santa treeSongs are written about the Christmas tree.  Decorating seems to be centered about the tree.  Most times it’s the first and maybe the only decoration in the living quarters.  The Christmas tree is often the topic of conversation around the holiday season. “Did you get your tree yet?”, “Did you put up your tree?”  Many traditions are centered around the tree; Santa Claus comes and decorates the tree, every year there is a different theme, the ornaments are all handmade, the youngest child puts the star on top, and on and on they go. I’m sure you have your tree traditions, and so does the James Manning House, starting with a decorated tree in every room.

Today we’ll start with a few of the themed trees, and the rule is decorated, size is immaterial.Let’s start our tour in the kitchen.  What is more appropriate in a kitchen that bakes over a thousand cookies for Christmas?  A tree decorated with cookie cutters and a Santa Claus or two.cookie cutter tree

Outside the windows the Christmas snow has fallen and the birds are busy flitting around the feeders.  Not much is red birdsmore beautiful than a bright red cardinal against the white snow, and what fun to watch the little chickadees flying in and out collecting one seed at a time.  The next tree brings the birds and snow inside adding warmth to the winter decor.

Our last tree to admire today is the Santa tree.  Adorned with over 75 Santa Claus ornaments this Alpine pencil tree is a favorite puzzle to search for all the classic and whimsical ways that the jolly elf can be created.  traditional santaCandy shaped, Santa on the beach, a star shaped Santa, Santa created from a brush, Santa gone fishing, Santa made from a star fish, and there are so many more.  You will have to visit just to find them all.candy santastar santabrush santa

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Great Christmas Light Fight – Not

We do like to see Christmas Villages, and lighted houses as we drive around the countryside, but with a 198 year old house, comein from the coldour outdoors will not be entered in the Great Christmas Light Fight.  Our front door is welcoming with wreath and greens.  The front is simply lit with flood lights, and the windows adorned with  ribbons and greens, much in the way of yesteryear.christmas sign

Bells and greens decorate the sign and lamps of entry, while Santa Claus flies nearby in his sleigh.flying santa Another whimsical sight guests see on arrival, is Santa giving Mrs. Claus a kiss underneath the mistletoe.  Mr & Mrs Claus

lighted treesChristmas trees from inside don’t have to retire at our B&B, they just become a member of the lighted grove around the driveway.  Although the trees are not real, the birds find window snowbeautycover and the cats enjoy a new playground among the lower branches.  When the December Christmas snows are falling, these trees create a winter wonderland.

Let us not forget the real reason for the season, our vintage Nativity reminds those passing by of The Wonderful Gift:The story

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Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

build a snowmanSpending time with grandchildren is always great. This past week my three-year-old granddaughter has been playing and singing Christmas songs all rolled together. She likes singing “Rudolph” the best, but asked me to help her to sing “Frosty the Snowman” which she did know with only a little help. Then we were watching Frozen, a favorite movie, with a favorite character, Olaf (a snowman for those not familiar with Disney). Children love snowmen! At the first flakes they cry, “Can we build a snowman?” Day three of decorating involves the lovable characters in a variety of styles: Snowmen!

snowfriends

One of my favorites is this beautiful painted gourd.  Created and purchased locally, this snowman is nestled in a hemlock cone forest of trees made by family.  This snowman graces our house all winter long.painted gourd snowman

Some of the snowmen have been with the family a long time and we have inherited a few more from other family members that had been used in the 40′s and 50′s, that vintage time of our parents.  I like to take a section of  the book shelves and create a little snow scene, such as pictured here.snowscene

 

Snowmen have become very popular in decorating and of course come in all sizes and shapes.  they are supporting favorite sports teams and added to collectors creations.  If you are interested in learning more about the frozen snowballs, author Bob Eckstein has written a book “The History of the Snowman” , available on Amazon or eBay. And say, “Let it snow, let it snow!”snowmanshelf

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Deck the Halls and the Pots

On the second day of decorating take a look at some of the boughs of green.  I like to add the special touch of live greens both inside and outside. Have you ever thought about what to do with “too heavy” to move planters layered potwhen the summer flowers have long faded and froze?  Brighten the outdoor holiday decor with cut greens and a fresh bow. Christmas dusty miller You can use almost any type of evergreen to make these outdoor gardens, whatever is available.  The branches can be cut to create different heights.  Push them into the dirt in the pot and if the soil is dry water well, when the ground freezes it preserves the greens to look nice all winter.  I also look at some of the other available plant leftovers that might make nice alternate textures.  The tissle weed seed heads hydrangaeare beautiful when spray painted, and this year I tried some spray paint on the hydrangea heads that had dried in the hanging basketfall.  Even the hanging baskets make good winter gardens.  Mine were also brightened with some water proof Fairy Lights which look like magic after dark.

 

Inside tucked among the Santa Claus decorations, on the hall table, in the guest rooms, poinsettiasand assorted other places it’s very easy to brighten the house with poinsettia plants. They come in so many colors and varieties from the greenhouse I like to place two or three together.  Cut greens are also filling empty crocks to add that wonderful Christmas aroma to the sitting rooms.  Again, a variety of cut evergreen boughs pushed into some floral foam will keep the greens through the holiday season.greens in crock

And don’t forget to spruce up your houseplants with some whimsical, glittery embellishments from the Christmas decorations spiced peace lilydepartment of your favorite store.  I will splurge on a centerpiece from a very artistic florist for the dining room table.  Each year Kathryn’s  creations from Fox Hill Farms astound me, and instead of getting sad when the fresh flowers fade, I pull them one by one and replace with some silk flowers.  The greens last a long time and only I know the arrangement didn’t come that way!  This is the original creation, isn’t it stunning?centerpiece

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