Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Thoughts for the new year...

December 26, the day after Christmas and most everyone I spoke with said "all I want to go is... stay in my pjs!" Everyone seems a little out of sorts,tired. And just think still a week to go!
I share some of those feelings,
How soon we tend to forget the anticipation of Christmas, the hope that in preparing, we will feel Christmas.
Since the first of December, I too have rushed to find the time to enjoy the things I love about Christmas, like the tree,  that it is finally up, still drinking water, not dropping needle, and still full of scent that I smell as soon as I come into the house.
There is nothing like a walk late in the day when the oncoming dark is kept at bay by the twinkle of tiny white lights surrounding porches and windows of all the homes.
One can only imagine the life stories of the home owners.
Inside the house we rush to create the Christmas image we hold in our minds eye.
Upon reflection, however, I find
I do not grow tired of that image.
When I look at this picture, taken by my daughter Rachel, of our tree and the centerpiece on our dinning room table, I hope the rush to get through the holidays will stop.Just a few minutes spend in the quite of the tree can do something to calm the soul.
All too soon, that scene will be gone, and the tranquill feel it protrays will only be a memory of another christmas past, leaving us with only 11 months to long for December 26.
But for now may we be blessed with the feel of Christmas.

Monday, November 4, 2013


November 3, 2013 ... a chilly, crisp, sun filled fall day! I knew I had to work quickly because the sun is setting much earlier today. Daylight savings time began yesterday and nothing announces the arrival of daylight saving time as the early arrival of fading sun and a darkening sky. But one quick glance at the day's forecast assured me that this day was going to offer a sun filled sky, casting brilliant color on the leaves that have manged to hang on to branches despite some pretty strong winds yesterday.

I headed out doors and draped a cream colored quilt over a garden table to help the stage for an "Outdoor Thanksgiving." If it was good enough for the Indians and Pilgrims then... and after all the quilt goes all  the to the grass; giving guests the perfect place to place cold toes!

In my minds eye, I must have been planning this for awhile because I had just been to a Goodwill Industry Store and found wonderful glass wear. In fact all the glasses you see on this table setting are from the Goodwill store. I have decide to visit a number of their stores over the next few months and see if I can set a spring table with merchandise from  Goodwill. It will be fun and a good way to contribute to a good cause. If you have any suggestions for the spring table, I'd love to hear from you.

Most of my flowers are pretty well gone by now, except an occasional hydrangea; even that is looking tired. Pine cones are plentiful in my neighborhood. Going for the natural look, I filled a hurricane lamp with them, and what better way to circle the lamp then with a slightly used wreath. This makes for a festive center piece!

I an certain that many of you could enhance the centerpiece with objects from nature. I would love to hear about them.

The desert dishes placed on top of the dinner plate prove to be a perfect nest for the turkey card holders. Or they will be, once I know who "is coming to dinner." Now if I can just convince my family that eating outside in November is fun,  wearing fleece for Thanksgiving is cool, and turkey done on the grill is tasty, I think we can change the image of the Thanksgiving table!

Friday, July 12, 2013

 If one is fortunate to have a passion , one is very fortunate.
For the longest time I thought  I had many passions and I approached them separately.
Over the years, however, I began to see a connect between my love of teaching young children and my love of entertaining. The underlying theme for each was really a combination of nature and nurture.
I enjoyed seeing how excited my Kindergarten students were to discover the feel, and taste of the vegetables when we made a visit to the local Farmers' Market. I equally enjoyed the look of those same vegetables artfully arranged in a pretty basket and used as a centerpiece on a late summer dinner table.
For children, the trip to the Farmers' Market is an opportunity for fun interactive learning. For family and friends an attractively set table  creates the tone for an entire evening.
 The taste of food is enhanced by  presentation of the on  pretty dishes.
This might be a thought to keep in mind if you are not such a good cook!

When my daughter Rachel started to follow her love of photography as a career path, I decide that this was my chance to bring my passion to light.
Rachel's photography is more than photos of pretty tables.
And as you go through our blog,ourhousefordinnerblog  I hope you will get our message.
Beautiful things can be found in department stores and gift shops. But the picture of your parents with your children, arranged as part of your Christmas table is also beautiful and adds that nurturing touch to this special day.

One of the comments we have received after people saw a television segment we did was, "You gave me ideas and after watching you set the table, I felt like, now, I can do that!"
Along with having had the chance to work with Rachel, comments like that bring  affirmation that I have finally found my passion.
How fortunate for me!
Enjoy ourhousefordinnerblog, and share your comments
I am hoping to publish a book based on this theme.
Your comments provide inspiration for this dream.
Judy Sweeney
Keystone College

Sunday, June 16, 2013

    Three pages in the local paper had pictures of fathers and their children.
A far cry from the weighty paper that appears on Mother's Day.
Sunday ads speak loudly for the "perfect gift" for the man of the house who needs another tool or gadget for the yard.
And many a man is busy holding a tie saying this is just what I needed while the vision of a golf club dances in his head.
And while he might dream of getting a little rest while pretending he is reading the paper, casting his fly fishing rod, reading a book, or even getting in a round of golf, more than likely he will be firing up the grill.
After all, it is Fathers' Day and the family is getting together, and who handles the grill better than dad!
And so it goes for fathers on Fathers' Day, surrounded by those who love them and for whom they do so much.
Often what they do goes unnoticed and is not really thought of unless it does not get done.
But the interesting thing about fathers is they understand that. They do what is expected and truely what they expect of themselves without a lot of fanfare.
They are steady and steadfast in their duties.
They work hard but find time to make it to our games, provide the car, or serve as our late night pickup when a ride is needed. 
They are the go to guy when mon just does not understand.
And while many of them do not often express their feeling, their very presence says it all.
We are able to explore the world, find our place in it, and move forward, because we are confident that we have a person and a place to fall back on should we have the need.
Fathers give us that.
What greater gift.
Happy Father's Day to all fathers, most especially my father, the late John Hennemuth, whose devotion to me and my siblings is remembered today and always, and to the father of my children, the late Alan Sweeney
They are the best because you gave them the best.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The ground hog saw his shadow...just when winter is starting to get a little long for me.
The quiet I longed for after the holidays is becoming just a little too quiet
                                                                TIME FOR A DINNER!
And this dinner must be special. Isn't that what Valentine's Day is really about, making each other feel special.

No better time to use the pink  cotton tablecloth that I once again found in a consignment shop, Home Again, in my neighborhood. I hope by now you are getting the idea of where to go for great tablwear, from tablecloths to placemats. There are beautiful things out there.
I would love to hear where some of you find your treasures.

My sister has the china that belonged to my Aunt Christine and Uncle Cyril. She was gracious enough to not only let me use it ,but to also let me set the table in her dining room.  She better, because after all I was bring
ing treats from the Dunmore Candy Kitchen.

TJ Max use to be the home of the beautiful  rose wreath. But now that it is mine, I decided it would look even more striking on my milk white cake dish. Or is that my cake dish?
For those of you who have sisters, cousins, close friends, please let me know how you deal with the borrower who accidently forgets that they borrowed1

In the meantime plan to do something kind for someone else,, light the candles, prepare a comfort food dinner, and have a fun Valentine's Day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Deep in December

The problem with a December table is that it is hard to decide how to set the table because just as there are many dishes to choose from, there are ideas about how to celebrate Christmas.
This is the way I start.
 First, I feel Christmas. Walking past a lot of freshly cut trees I smell the scent of winter pine and I conjure an image of a living room whose center piece is a Christmas tree and the scent is warming the house and the people inside. Under a moon lit sky, I see wide open fields decorated with snow and frozen foot prints.
 I hear silence in this very regal setting, which has served as the backdrop to many Christmas stories.
So to should  the table reflect the majesty of the waiting world.
Spode Christmas dishes are enhanced by the backdrop of a rich green silk tablecloth. I found this fabric in a now closed Scranton store, The Fabric Center. I immediately saw it as rich and understated and that it would lend dignity to the Christmas celebration.
 My late husband loved toy soldiers and it gives me great joy to ask  this life size
wooden soldier, which he purchased from his friend Jim Hillestad, owner of  The Toy Soldier in Cresco, Pa. to stand gruard over the festive table.  Although I think he could have
drawn our attention to the crooked candle before snaping the picture!
I frequently use less formal settings.
However, at Christmas I think there is no better time to polish the silver, add fresh greens, shine the crystal, and, light the candles as we celebrate the time at which many people the world over attempt to find  co-exist in a world seeking peace, if only for a day! I would love to have you share your thoughts on Christmas. It is fun to hear about others ideas. There is so much creativity out there.
Merry Christmas

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November, Table of the Month

 We give Thanks!
It took me about one second to think of the room in which I would like to set the November table.
My friend agreed. And so I loaded the car with some of my favorite fall dishes and went to set the table. The lite scones enhanced the creamy textured walls and provided the backdrop for one of our warmest holidays. People look at me funny when I say November is my favorite month.
I don't focus on how brown the earth has turned . Rather I see it as a time to come inside, enjoy the fruits of our labors and be thankful for what we have. And given the storms, and world unrest, it is nice to focus on the things that matter, even if just for a day.
So much to be grateful for.
My mother found the soup tureen in a gift shop on Cape Cod and it sat on our
dining room table every year adorned  with a red ribbon at Christmas. She so loved that tureen
that I  love having it, finding new uses for it, and sharing her love of it. I see it more as a Thanksgiving piece, however.
My mother was also a wonderful pie maker and although I did not inherit her talent for pie making, my sister  Susan did. So like most of you, pie is a must have at Thanksgiving. My children love chocolate pie and have such fond memories of my mother's that Susan now makes sure to include it along with pumpkin.

There is something about etched glass that has always fascinated me . So it as fun to be able to mix some of what I have with my friends glassware. I think I enjoy seeing how the light reflects in and on the glasses. Glassware adds a touch of elegance to a table.
Just as there are infinite number of Thanksgiving tables, there are ways that each of us celebrates. I would so love it if you would share some of your Thanksgiving traditions and thoughts with me.
In these very trying times, we need to be reminded of how we can come together and help each other. Remember that when the Pilgrims needed help, the native Americans came to their aid.
                                                               Happy Thanksgiving.