Sunspots Studios & Glassblowing: An Artsy Adventure 20 Nov 2014, 10:41 am
“As difficult as it is to master, glass blowing, in even the simplest piece done by a novice, is simply magical, which, perhaps, has helped this archaic form of art has live on.” –Memorials.com
Have you ever watch the process of glassblowing? It is an absolutely fascinating display of art that I s almost like blowing a bubble and then shaping said bubble with careful movements, additional heat, and an artistic eye. This is the magic that happens in Staunton, Virginia’s Sunspots Studios.
You may have heard us mention Sunspots before, and that’s because we’re huge fans of their work, displays, and hands-on activities. Not only do they feature daily glassblowing demonstrations, but they also offer a gallery and gift shop where you can peruse and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces—jewelry, vases, paperweights, hummingbird feeders, oil candles, ornaments and more. And speaking of ornaments, one of our favorite aspect of Sunspots Studios is their “Blow Your Own Ornament” activities.
Through the rest of November, you have the opportunity to join a professional glassblower in crafting your own ornament. There is nothing quite as satisfying as holding a creation of your very own, especially one that makes a beautifully unique souvenir or a special gift for friends or family. Create a traditional ornament to hang on your inevitable Christmas tree. Choose a glow-in-the-dark ornament to add a holiday radiance to your decorations. Craft a pumpkin ornament that will perfectly accompany your fall décor. Every piece is unique, and the best part about blowing your own ornament is that it is uniquely YOU!
Sunspots is joining in the Black Friday brouhaha and offering their own special opportunity that will run through the next few Fridays: Blowing your own ornament usually only lasts until 4pm, but starting on Black Friday, additional appointments will be offers from 5pm to 7pm.
Sunspots is only 20 minutes from the Iris Inn, so if you’re on a B&B getaway here, take a bit of time for a one-of-a-kind glassblowing adventure.
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Cherish Your Cheat Day with Chocolate Chess Pie 13 Nov 2014, 12:50 pm
As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contained the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.” –Sandra Boynton
Whether you want something new and delicious for your upcoming Thanksgiving meal, or it’s a cheat day on your diet and you need some sugar stat, then we’ve got everything you’re looking for. This chocolate chess pie, which was published in the Virginia Bed & Breakfast Cookbook, is not only a longtime favorite of ours, but is also particularly easy to make (especially if you use a pre-made pie shell). So, without further ado, here is the recipe:
1 9-inch pie shell
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
Dash of salt
1 small can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cocoa
Preheat oven to 325°. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 24 minutes to 1 hour.
5 Things We’re Thankful for at the Iris Inn 5 Nov 2014, 11:34 am
Thanksgiving will be here soon, but that’s certainly not the only day of the year to be grateful for all that we have. While “30 Days of Thanks” has been a trending subject on social media, we figure that a list of 30 things we’re thankful for would probably be a bit long. So, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 things that we’re thankful for at the Iris Inn:
- Our guests. Of course our guests has to be number 1 on our list! Without guests, a B&B is pointless. You make us what we are, and we are so thankful for the continued support and kind words that you offer, both in person and online.
- The view. Even after all these years of living on a mountaintop in the Shenandoah Valley, the view never ceases to take our breath away. From the colorful sunsets to the snow-capped winter scenery, the views are ever-changing and ever-beautiful.
- Breakfast. There’s no better way to start the day than with a hearty, Southern meal, and we’re thankful not only to partake in them, but also to be able to share them with our guests.
- Katie the Border Collie (and Shadow!). Katie is beloved by all who meet her, and really, she’s more of a canine innkeeper than just a pet. Her tail chasing, people herding, and gentle manner are only a few of the reasons everybody loves Katie.
- The Shenandoah Valley. We already mentioned the view, but the Valley is so much more than just the aesthetics. There is a vibrant history and culture here that we enjoy exploring, and it includes everything from local wine to Virginia history.
Happy 30 Days of Thanks! What are you thankful for?
Savor the Brew at Seven Arrows in Fishersville, VA 20 Oct 2014, 1:19 pm
“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” –Dave Berry
New Year’s Eve at a microbrewery? Sounds like a plan to us! On December 31, 2014, you will have the opportunity to attend the grand opening of a brand new local brewery, Seven Arrows, in Fishersville, Virginia (only a quick drive away from the Iris Inn). Seven Arrows is the product of Aaron and Melissa Allen, a couple who offers experience in chemical engineering, software engineering, and a love of good, quality beer.
And speaking of the beer, you’re probably interested in the types of brews that Seven Arrows will be offering:
Eventide IPA—“Based on an American Style IPA” with a “prominent hop aroma with a piny/spicy character.”
Sinistral Wheat—a Bavarian style wheat beer with a creamy gold color, fluffy white head, banana, and cloves.
Aurora Pils—a Bohemian Pilsner-style brew with a spicy, floral flavor and a deep burnished gold color.
Boreal Amber—“a traditional American Amber Ale that offers tremendous drinkability while at the same time provides sweet biscuity and caramel notes combined with clean finishing hop bitterness.”
The Witching Hour Black Lager— am alty, chocolate beer with hints of roasted and caramel malt flavors.
Hermenator Doppelbock: A seasonal winter beer with intensely malty, chocolate, toasty, and caramel flavors.
Click here for a full list of Seven Arrows’ brews.
We look forward to trying out this new brewery. Congratulations to Aaron and Melissa on the upcoming grand opening!
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Guest Blogger: Shadow Stays at the Iris Inn 14 Oct 2014, 8:28 am
Hello, friends of the Iris Inn. My name is Shadow, and I’m a friend both of Katie the Border Collie and of her humans Dave and Heidi Lanford. At this moment, my humans are selling their condo, and while they’re taking care of all that goes along with the sale, I’m staying at the Iris Inn as a guest, and I am very pleased to be offering my canine services as guest blogger.
So, what is it like staying at the Iris Inn? Well, first you should know that I am originally from Washington D.C., so I am accustomed to the small, quiet space of a city apartment. My humans wake in the morning, have their breakfast, and head out the door to work, so I spend my days sleeping and milling around the apartment. It’s not an especially adventurous life, but I do enjoy the laid-back quiet of it all. My humans return home at 6:00 p.m. every day, and we enjoy dinner together, a bit of TV watching, a walk outside, and then snuggling up to go to sleep.
It should come as no surprise that the Iris Inn is a tiny bit different than my home life. Here at the inn, there are people coming and going all the time, always bustling with activity, whether it be dragging luggage, collecting breakfast plates, or hurrying with arms full of clean laundry to fold. I must say that I don’t mind all of this activity! Everyone thinks I’m cute, and I certainly love the attention. Katie the Border Collie also makes a wonderful companion, and she’s quickly shown me the ropes here.
Going outside is a bit scary, though! Remember, I’m if used to a one-bedroom apartment in the city, so the Iris Inn seems like a whirlwind of trees and cabins and doors, and I get confused as to where I’m going and how I get back to the Great Room of the inn. That’s why I’m especially thankful for Katie and her humans, who guide me back to where I need to be.
I’ll still be here at the inn for a little while, so if you want to come visit Katie and myself, you can reserve one of cabins, cottages, or suites. I promise to greet you when you arrive!
Ghosts of Staunton Walking Tour: A Frighteningly Good Time 6 Oct 2014, 10:33 am
Many people are fascinated by the supernatural. Just look at the popularity of otherworldly horror and thriller films. It comes as no surprise that October, the month of that scare-fest known as Halloween, is a popular time for events with spooky themes. One such local event is the Ghosts of Staunton Walking Tour, presented by Black Raven Paranormal.
Staunton, Virginia offers quite a few stories of paranormal activity. From Emilio’s Italian Restaurant to Mary Baldwin College, there are ghostly experiences to be discovered and explored all over the Queen City in a number of different ways:
- Historic Walking Ghost Tour- This 90-minute tour rooted in the history of the city. You’ll walk nearly a mile throughout Staunton as your incredibly knowledgeable guide shares the various paranormal occurrences that have been claimed throughout the year. This is a fascinating, factual experience, so if you’re trying to avoid theatricality and cheesiness, then this will be perfect for you.
- Spirit Box Depot Tour- “Step back in time as we tour and explore one of Staunton’s most haunted locations, the Depot Station…Over the course of 150 years though, tragic events would come with the Railroad. Events from the past that still haunt the depot to this very day.” A spirit box is a device that uses radio waves to attempt to contact the other side, and your Depot Tour will include a live spirit box session. This is an excellent tour for those who love history and potentially creepy experiences.
- Haunts of Dejarnette Sanatorium- “Join us for this 90 minute tour as we discuss the history of the Sanatorium, Dr DeJarnette and the many tortured souls that still linger at this location to this very day. Do these tortured souls still wander the halls and the grounds of the sanatorium seeking to escape the horrors of DeJarnette?”
Happy Touring! (Don’t forget to book your room at the Iris Inn.)
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Golfer Extraordinaire: Hannah Savidge 17 Sep 2014, 6:52 am
As at only 16 years of age, sophomore Hannah Savidge of Wilson Memorial High School became the captain of her school’s golf team. This is quite an accomplishment in and of itself, but it’s made even more impressive, because Hannah is the only girl on her all-boys team, making her the only female golfer in the Shenandoah District.
Hannah is the granddaughter of two of our Iris Inn guests, Jack and Clem, who visit every so often to see their granddaughter play. Jack and Clem proudly say of their granddaughter, “She is too much – made captain of the all-boys, except her, H.S. team as a sophomore at age 16. College scholarship in the making.”
We recently had the chance to interview Hannah, so keep reading to learn more about this extraordinary young woman:
How long have you been playing golf and what inspired you to begin? “I started playing golf when I was 11. My dad is really into golf and he had just gotten new clubs, so we went to the driving range and I began hitting his old clubs. When he realized I was hitting them well, we purchased my own set and that is where it all started.”
Are your teammates supportive of having a girl play with them? “My teammates are very supportive. They are very encouraging, and they always watch out for me. This year we’ve gotten extremely close and I look at them like my brothers.”
Do you plan to continue golfing in college? I would absolutely love the chance to play golf in college. A few schools have shown interest and it’s all very exciting.
Do you have any words of encouragement for other female athletes? “To female athletes competing against all males, my advice would be to not become intimidated. Being intimidated and nervous was the biggest challenge I faced when I started playing against the guys. Soon though, I realized that most of them were really nice and I was on their skill level. So be confident and do not worry what others think.”
We wish Hannah the best of luck!
A Virginia Vintner Venture: Barboursville and the Palladio 8 Sep 2014, 6:17 pm
Here in Virginia, we love our wineries, and we’re lucky to have close to 30 wineries and vineyards within 30 miles of the Iris Inn. One such vineyard is Barboursville, a stunning, historic estate. Barboursville is the only American winery founded by Italian winemaker Gianni Zonin, and it is “built on the grounds of Barboursville, the home of the 19th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, James Barbour” (Wikipedia).
So, how about their wine? Barboursville is known more than anything else for their big, bold reds (though they offer white wines as well). There is, of course, the Octagon, which VirginiaWine.org calls “the most renowned red wine of Virginia.” Sip their Barbera, savor their Cabernet Sauvignon, and taste the Nebbiolo. These are quality wines rich in both European and American tradition. And what goes better with wine than fantastic cuisine?
The Palladio Restaurant is an offshoot of Barboursville Vineyard where wine and food pairings elicit the full potential of the wine. Award-winning Chef Melissa Close Hart will treat your palate to bursts of perfectly paired flavors. For your appetizer, choose a mushroom and spinach salad, goat and garlic sausage, or a house-made charcuterie. For your first course, sink your teeth into bigoli pasta, fresh ricotta ravioli, or roasted fennel & potato gnocchi.
For the second course, Palladio offers everything from vegetable filled pastry to braised and seared pork shoulder. And what dinner would be complete with dessert? How about a ladyfinger sponge cake dipped in espresso, an orange olive oil cake, or a chocolate and hazelnut tart? Break out your “business casual” attire, and prepare for indulgence at Palladio Restaurant. (Quick Tip: Lunch is casual at the Palladio, but a jacket is required for dinner.)
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An Extreme Anniversary at the Iris Inn 1 Sep 2014, 1:30 am
Weekend guests here at the Iris Inn are celebrating a wedding anniversary, leaving their kids at home while they take a much-needed vacation together. Ann and Rolando fit all these criteria, but their getaway was anything but relaxing. They arrived at the inn and settled into their room, but then their weekend took a turn for the extreme, as they participated in Wintergreen Resort’s Virginia Super Spartan Race.
So, what is the Spartan Race? It’s an extreme race that is certainly not for the faint of heart. In Wintergreen’s own words, “We said ‘adventure’ right? Well folks let’s get adventurous! There’s no dress code, per se, but you’ll be running in mud and water, climbing hills and mountains, crawling under barbed wire and jumping fire. So choose wisely my friends.”
(Furthermore is something called HH12HR, “12 Hour Hurricane Heat,” which “tests each athlete’s physical and mental toughness,” and those quality then get to participate in the Peak Death Race.)
Congratulations to Ann and Rolando for participating in and completing this race!
If you’re interested in participating in extreme sports, then you may want to sign up for Wintergreen’s Tough Mudder mud-run, which they call “absolute toughest mud-run out there,” “meant as a true test of all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” This mud-run was designed by British Special Forces and features barbed-wire crawls, electric shocks, ice-cold plunges, and the infamous FireWalker gauntlet of flames. Tough Mudder is scheduled for October 22 and 23, 2014, so book your room at the Iris Inn now, and start your training.
A Tasty Treat: Greenwood Gourmet Grocery 18 Aug 2014, 10:44 am
There is no shortage of delicious dining in and around the Shenandoah Valley. From local cafes to fine dining, there is something for every taste and every dietary requirement. One of our particular favorites is a quirky little place called Greenwood Gourmet Grocery.
Located in Crozet, Greenwood Gourmet Grocery offers a unique assortment of meats, cheeses, fish, sandwiches, and poultry. To quench your thirst, choose a beverage from their full-service espresso bar or from the 400 various brands of wine and beer. (Their selection of wine and beer includes everything from West Coast brews to overseas libations to local vintages.)
Out of all of their offerings, owners David and Nina are probably most well-known for their locally-inspired sandwiches which includes ingredients from Albemarle Baking Company, Polyface Farm, and Thumann’s Deli.
6701 Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Crozet, Virginia 22932
Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm
Saturday, 9am to 6pm
Sunday, 10am to 6pm
“A delightful artisan market. Their sandwiches are amazing as are the deli selections. A wonderful assortment of local good and produce as well as many local wines. Great selection of beers too. We assembled the perfect picnic here to take to King Family Vineyards. We highly recommend this market.” –TripAdvisor reviewer
“Great wines, beers, cheeses, local produce, wonderful breads, and amazing sandwiches. They have the coke without corn syrup, the real Ginger Ale, great gelato and ice cream, an amazing selection of gourmet groceries, just like the name says it.” –TripAdvisor reviewer