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

 

 

 

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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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Anticipation and Preparation Usher in December

seasonalcookies hhschamberchoirDecember finds the inn to be bustling with holiday preparations.  Cookies have been baking and the decorating almost finished in anticipation for our annual Open House.  This year we will be once again hosting the local high school Chamber Choir to sing Christmas Carols.  Our friend and author, Will Wyckoff, will be on hand to sign his books, including the new “Slow Fire Burning”.  We certainly enjoy this time of year and the warmth we receive from those who stop by to wish Season’s Greetings.

After that excitement is over, there is still time to enjoy the building anticipation for the “big day”.  Traveling guests will find smiles and wonderful baked goods for breakfast, because we just feel like kids again this time of year.  And speaking of kids, as most of you know we are grandparents to four adorable grandchildren (yes, that’s grandparent talk!).  It sure will be fun when they gather for Christmas day!

It’s easy to forget that winter is just around the corner, with cold, snow and short days, with December ushering in the season.  We’re hoping for a snow cover this year so everyone can enjoy the wonderful outdoor sports.  There are lots of activities to enjoy in the area, skiing, sledding, skating, ice fishing, snowshoes, how about a good old-fashioned snowball fight?  snowfamilyWe’ve already had a few inches for some snowman building.  For those of you who don’t like to be outside, just bring along a good book the fire’s toasty warm!

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Five Days of Holiday Traditions

Antiquecollage

Tradition #4 Deck the Halls!  If you have visited us during December you know we like Christmas and decorating the inn might just be an understatement.  It’s the time of year when we all get out our special, once-a-year treasures; our family ornaments, fine china, and other types of festive decorations.  At the James Manning House you will find a bit of merriment in every room.

Welcome to each guest room and enjoy a jolly little tree.  Perhaps you will remember some of the vintage ornaments and dream of Christmases past.  Twinkling lights adorn the staircase adding a warm glow to the hall.  Did you see the old Shiny Brite glass ornaments shinybriteshanging from the greens?  The living room tree sparkles with antique ornaments of all sizes and shapes, indents and mercury, beaded and Venetian dew.  Some of these are from Germany and some from the early 20th century.  This is my favorite of nine decorated trees in the house.  I enjoy seeing all those beautiful colors, and fourth generation hand-me-downs.  I hope they survive several more generations giving joy to the holiday season for years to come.

nativity

When I think of our Christmas heirlooms my mind is focused on a very special Nativity Set.  This set has beautifully hand-painted ceramic figures.  The three wise men and camel even have some gold trim and jewels.  What really makes this crèche special to me is the story.  My aunt glazed and fired all the pieces and gave the set to my parents as a wedding gift in 1946.  The pieces are still in mint condition and I have set them up every year to tell the story of the birth of the Christ child since I was a young girl.

Entering the house you will encounter that magical belief; “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.  And another Santa Claus and another, and another, in fact three years ago there were at least 350! (Of course none disappeared and more are added and I don’t think it’s cheating to count the ornaments on the Santa tree.)  Some are elaborately dressed, some made of wood, or metal, or glass, mink, beeswax, and so many more combinations.  There are some dressed in red, or green, there’s even a purple Claus.  I can’t imagine just how this special elf started to fill our rooms but now the tradition is there and there always seems to be a place to display a new addition.collector santa

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Reconnect with the Warmth at “Christmas in the Village”

Mid –November; pumpkin recipes have been cooking;  a turkey waiting  in the freezer; some Christmas cookies baked.  Well, maybe all this is complete in my dreams………..  At least I know one thing for sure……Christmas is around the corner and we are once again excited to host our annual Christmas Open House as part of “Christmas in the Village”!  IMG_3699This year the event is December 5 from 2-4PM.  It is a wonderful event at the James Manning House.  The Honesdale High School Chamber Choir will be entertaining us with Christmas carols.  There will be plates of those luscious, delicious Christmas cookies, and our author friend, Will Wyckoff, will be here signing his new book, Rabbit Trails.  Best of all the house will be bright and merry with the twinkling of lights, the wonder of decorated trees, adorned with greens and bows, and all those Santa Clauses to see! IMG_3698Our lovely little village will also be alive with activities to celebrate the season.  Santa Claus will be visiting with children in the library, and the library is one of the historic buildings that is a must see.  Be sure to get more of a taste of colonial Bethany in the Historical Society’s room upstairs.   Tour the 1829 Bethany United Methodist Church and make a Christmas craft.  Perhaps decorate your own live wreath at the E. Kellogg B&B.  There will be tastes of the season everywhere you stop.  Of course the memories of the smiles and warmth of the season are the best gifts to take from the day.2014-01-01 11.59.30 HDR

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