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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Twelve Days of Decorating

snowy snowmanToday Mother Nature gave me the best starting point for twelve days of Christmas decorating.  You can’t beat the real thing, and now that the ground is covered, lights twinkle brighter, beauty glows stronger, and spirits are happier.  It is December and winter is here; “Let It SNOW!”christmas sign

 

Our open house has come and gone, but not everyone had a chance to stop by.  Some live to far, lives are busy this time of year, and we understand all the interruptions, so I thought I’d take some time to give you a peak around our Holiday House.  Each day I’ll pick a different theme and an explanation about the decorating “James Manning House” style.  Follow along and I hope it helps to get you or keep you in the holiday spirit.

comein from the coldDay One, and the snow keeps falling, so here’s a few more images with a pretty, fluffy white blanket of the season.  It’s the best decoration of them all, making everything so wonderfully Christmas.snow goose

 

 

 

country church

window snowbeauty

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Small Town America visits the Holidays

oldfashioned Christmas reRemember back to the days of your youth?  Holidays were a time that we simply loved.  What made it so endearing? I think it was the memories we created, the warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside.  Are we taking time to recreate those memories, and make new ones for our children and grandchildren?  Living in a small town, I think my family is lucky to have the opportunity to slow down and have the experience of old fashioned holiday spirit.

Our town, Honesdale,  has a wonderful weekend they like to call “Honesdale for the Holidays”.   Stores are decked out in their holiday spirit and many stores and businesses will host “Open Houses” with seasonal warmth for their shoppers and visitors.  Christmas music rings from the town pavilion making the shopping merry as vendors dot the sidewalks with their wares.  The high school choir and Victorian strollers walk main street for all to enjoy.  ticketsresAll the while the Stourbridge Line train will be blowing its whistle inviting young and old to hop on the train and take a ride with Santa and some elves, trains and Christmas it doesn’t get any better.  As the sun sets and the decorations light up the streets the sidewalks crowd as the little ones get ready for Santa to come to town.  What a festive spirit as the parade marches by, ending with the “big guy” himself.  The people follow the parade into Honesdale’s Central Park and activities continue.  Led by Rudolph and Frosty songs are sung and the star on Irving Cliff brightens the horizon for another holiday season.  Children visit with Santa and everyone enjoys hot chocolate and a wonderful small town America.  For more information: http://www.visithonesdalepa.com/honesdale-event/1526/

We, at the James Manning House, love to keep this Holiday Americana feeling going, and that’s why we invite everyone to a Holiday Open House.  This spirit spills out into our little village of Bethany in another event we call “Christmas in the Village”.  This year we are celebrating, Saturday, December 2, from 2-4 PM.  At the inn we will have the Honesdale High School Chamber Choir delighting us with Christmas songs and carols.  13cookiesOur friend and author of three books, Will Wyckoff, will be here signing books and chatting with visitors.  The house will shine in all its holiday splendor and we delight in showing visitors all around and share with holiday cheer.  Of course, the kitchen has been busy for days ahead of this event and a huge platter of homemade cookies will be available for tasting.  Bethany Public Library joins in the fun with an appearance of Mrs. Claus who helps children write letters to Santa.  They enjoy stories and hot chocolate, too.  Bethany Methodist Church will also be hosting visitors in the holiday spirit.  Bethany Village invites everyone to stop by for their tree lighting and a Tricky Tray raffle. For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1499957440086260/

We hope that you can take some time and visit us to enjoy the little things that make us appreciate the wonders of the season.  But most of all start some of your own traditions and sweet memories will be yours.Antiquecollage

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Anniversary Flashbacks

How many times have you used the old clichés to mark the passing of time; ‘Where did the time go?’, ‘My how time flies!’, ‘I don’t remember when time seemed to past so quickly’, and so many more?  This summer marked our ninth year as a Bed and Breakfast, and it sure did pass quickly.  As I work my way through the daily chores in each room I try to think back to when we first opened the doors for our guests.

Wayne RoomThere have been improvements to our guest rooms.  In an old house wiring needs to be upgraded and in the beginning we didn’t realize what would happen when three hairdryers were all used at one time!  Bathroom fixtures have been upgraded, oh yes, and a bathroom added since we’ve opened our doors.  Bedding has been improved for guest comfort, and we are using ultra soft Comphy sheets for better sleeping.  Next on the upgrade list in guest rooms will be improved HD cable features.

There have been changes to the common rooms as well.  If any of you remember, or if you haven’t been here, you will notice we like to “collect” things, particularly unique antique and vintage items.  And, of course, these items are artfully displayed, changed for the seasons, and at times replaced with newer old décor.  When I look back at photos of the rooms from the nine years of hosting, I notice that furniture in the beginning was sparse, and now the rooms have a more comfortable, relaxing feeling.  Just this week guests walked through the door and said, “We’re Home!”  That saying never gets old when we hear that feeling expressed by our guests, we hope to make guests feel comfortable.

Our kitchen, where the food magic happens has seen multiple changes.  Some years back, Warren built a new island with an oak butcher block top.  This was the final phase of remodeling without destruction of the character of the original kitchen.  How did we ever work together in the kitchen, and plate the dishes without this?  But our favorite, and pride and joy is the stove purchased two years ago. stove Six burners, convection oven, and wow, we’ll never cook on electric again!  So much for our favorites in the kitchen, our guests just love all the new recipes I try and keep adding to the repertoire. (Who else gives a thumbs-up for Pintrest? wink, wink)

Eleven years ago I was asked to allow my gardens to be a part of the Secret Garden Tour, what??  What a chore, we really hustled to make the property presentable, after construction and getting ready for a bed and breakfast bulldozed about two-thirds of our acre.  Since then I found out that gardens are constantly being changed, and weeds sometimes get the best of us.   We’ve added fruit trees, berry bushes, and herbs hoping to be able to offer fresh, in season food for breakfast.  Last summer’s addition of a waterfall feature is absolutely my favorite change to the property.  Although, it took a year to complete the pergola and landscape around the waterfall, it is already an oasis for guests to relax and enjoy.waterfallre

I don’t think I’ve even begun to recall all the changes during the last nine years, and I can only imagine what the next nine years will bring.  The best part of running a bed and breakfast business those years are the wonderful people we’ve met.  There are no regrets and we hope you will visit us again soon.group away

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Should There be Spring?

Valentine rosesIf you have visited our inn, you know I like to decorate.  At Christmas that might even be considered an understatement.  January comes knocking on the door just as Santa Claus needs to take a rest until next December.  Snowmen take their places on the shelves and mantles, then add a few hearts, shades of pink, and roses, and romance fills the air as February hits the calendar.  What’s next?

Yes, it’s true a few shamrocks can be placed to make things St Pat's basketjovial, but the dilemma remains, February is still lingering and winter still has some claws holding fast.  This year is making the decision even more difficult, do I dare to display Spring so early?  But looking at the calendar, (wait, yipes!) Easter is fast approaching! Yes, the days are getting longer, but bunnies and tulips?  Can dreams come true? Could we skip this winter that wasn’t?  I’m ready. As February draws to a close, I have gotten used to not needing the boots to go outside, and those snowshoes can just keep their dust until easterbunnext winter.  I think I’m over not getting “the big snow” for this winter, I surely don’t want it mid-March. (Apologies to all our southern east coast friends who did get a big one this year, you can keep it.)  March will be a month of transition into Spring.  Easter will roll on by and so I suppose we can look at bunnies, ducks, daffodils and chicks, and by the time April arrives those sights and flowers will be here, real time, on the outside

Early spring daffodils

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