Christmas at the Inn (inside)

colored_xmas_lightsOnce the outside was taken care of, we could turn to the inside, which is much more fun in my opinion.  At one point you could not even walk through the hallway or dining room because of the Great Christmas Storage Bin Explosion.  Glitter was everywhere– is everywhere still!  (Seriously, how do you get rid of loose glitter??) Having bins and bags and boxes of holiday decor, some of which I had never seen, meant opening everything all at once and seeing what was inside.  Some of it was fantastic and some of it (I’m thinking of you, melted pink candle stubs), were not really usable anymore.

With all sorts of options and choices at my fingertips, I set about making the suites somewhat understatedly decorated and the public rooms overstatedly Christmased. With the holiday music on full blast–because what is the holiday without John Denver and the Muppets singing “12 Days of Christmas??–I put out the gnomes from Scandinavia, the smokers from Germany, Santa and his flying reindeer from Iceland, and everything else we have collected over the years.

Each suite has a wreath or a swag on the door and a poinsettia in the room, plus one of the drawings of the holiday card.  Usually its one of me and my cat, Jackie, because of the ones with Will and I are hanging on the hallway, mixed in between our canvas travel photos.   Capitol_wreath



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These gnomes are from Scandinavia, called Tomte in Swedish or Nisse in Danish.  Tomte are mythological creatures associated with Christmas and are usually about 3 feet tall or shorter, always have a long white beard, and wear a conical hat.  According to legend, they love buttery porridge and watche over the house (or farm) in which they reside.   They are some of my favorite holiday decorations and I am reminded of our trips to Denmark and Sweden everything I see them.  And, if you look closely at the photo with the travel photos, you can see the Inn’s holiday card and our holiday card for this year framed on the wall.


What is the holiday without the Nutcracker?  These nutcrackers are placed throughout the Inn and are just about 3 inches tall.  They remind of my sister and brother-in-law, who, when living in San Francisco, worked the Nutcracker Ballet.  His job: to make the Christmas grow at the end of Act I.  He would have to sit inside the tree for the entire first act, waiting for his cue of Herr Doktor Drosslemeyer casting a magic spell on the tree to make it grow.  I can’t imagine sitting in a tree trunk for that long for one action, but he did it, year and year.

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The banister is always fun to decorate and this year, I did it without lights but with flowers, beads, and topped with a beautiful golden song bird.  Also, hanging from the bottom of the banister are several bits of string, waiting to hold Christmas cards that we receive.  I love displaying everyone’s cards and making them a focal point on the stairs is a great way to do that.

Antietam_Suite_fireplaceI think that my favorite suite to decorate this year was the Antietam Suite– it has so many options with that fireplace!  I have birds and mice, wreaths and foxes tucked on the mantel.  I particularly love the birds, with their faux fur scarfs.  wreath_closeup dressed_birds mouse_fox

In the sitting and dining rooms, we have garland, stockings, a Christmas ficus, bouncy birds, and smokers.  Technically these are räuchermännchen, a traditional German decoration that also is an incense burner. The incense smoke curls out of the mouth and since each of the characters has a pipe, it looks like they are smoking.  I have two of mine from the Christmas markets in Germany and one from a year-round holiday store in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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And finally: our Christmas Tree.  A real one gotten from a local market, it’s a Canaan Fir, which I have never had before.  It is quite pretty and just under 7 feet tall.  I love decorating a real Christmas tree, even putting on the lights– and we all know that lights are never fun.  We have several of the yearly White House Christmas ornaments and one guest just gave us the 2016 one: a firetruck from the Herbert Hoover Administration.  We were quite touched that our guests gave us this present.


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And a post script, what house doesn’t have a bonsai Christmas?  When I was putting the finishing touches on the tree, Will snuck off and decorated one of his bonsai trees, complete with miniature ornaments and presents under the tree.


From Will, Stirling, and myself, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a marvelous New Year.  May 2017 bring you love, happiness, and peace.


Christmas at the Inn (outside)


It’s our first holiday season at the Inn and we have had such a  fun time decorating.  Some decorations were left in the basement; we had several bins of stuff; and my friend’s lovely parents donated a TON of decorations to us as they are downsizing.  Without their additional items, I would have been out on a buying spree!

We have never really decorated the exterior of our house before, so being up on the roof to hang wreaths was a first.  Untangling boxes and bags of garlands and strings of lights was also a fun way to spend a windy afternoon.  However, we think that the outcome is pretty spectacular.

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And much to Will’s chagrin and my absolute delight, I put up the wooden reindeer, complete with tartan scarfs.  I put them in the back yard, at least, so you can’t see them from the road.  We were trying to keep the front yard classy.  Every time I see them. I giggle.

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We added more candles in the windows, to make it different from the rest of the year, and Will wrapped every lamp post in lights.  By the end of the afternoon, even he–usually pretty grumpy when it comes to decorating– was totally into it and loving how the Inn looked.  We have gotten a few calls from neighbors about how lovely it looks, so we are pretty pleased with our first efforts of outdoor decorating.  Will is even thinking about next holiday and how we can improve what we have out this year!


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I will say that I do really love our digital camera.  One of the fun features it has is to highlighting a single color while making the rest of the photo black and white.  Focusing on the red ribbons on the wreaths and in the garland, it makes for quite dramatic photos.   And of course, no post would be complete without our obligatory photo of Stirling:

The obligatory Stirling photo


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Stirling in the azaleas

Stirling in the azaleas

Hello and welcome to the Inn at Antietam! We are Miriam and William Cunningham, the new owners, and we look forward to sharing our stories with you.

Miriam (me) is originally from Kentucky and moved to DC to attend graduate school in European History. William was born in England and moved to the USA after he finished university. A mutual friend introduced us while watching a world cup soccer match. We dated, we married, and we adopted our puppy: Stirling, an English Shepard collie dog.

We moved to Sharpsburg from Washington, DC, earlier this year, after living in the city for twenty-plus years. We love the District, but we were ready for something new and and different. Miriam wanted to run a bed and breakfast and William wanted chickens. So, here we are. William is continuing his employment as a program director for a conferencing company and Miriam will be making breakfast. Chickens still to come.

The Inn at Antietam is a beautiful old Victorian house, originally built in 1906.  In 1983, it was first turned into a bed and breakfast.  We are the third owners and we will continue the tradition of offering comfortable, pleasant accommodations with a delicious homemade breakfast.  We are currently updating and renovating the suites while keeping the beautiful charm of the house, the garden, and the back fields. You can follow all the changes and renovations through this blog.  We will also feature things to do in the area, not just the Antietam National Battlefield and National Cemetery which are our adjacent neighbors.

We hosted several overnight visitors for long term stays to our home in Washington and now we cannot wait to welcome you to our new home, the Inn at Antietam!