Candlelight Christmas Tours at Montpelier 3 Dec 2013, 3:50 pm
Montpelier—home to Father of the Constitution and former president of the United States, James Madison, and his beloved wife Dolley. It was here at this large plantation that the couple retired in 1817, managing the estate, jointly editing James’ numerous political papers, and simply enjoying each other’s company amidst the rich, Virginia land. The 19th century structure still stands tall and proud on 2,650 acres of land near Orange, Virginia, and there is no time more suited for a visit than the holiday season.
On four different days this month, December 6, 7, 13, and 14, Montpelier will be offering Candlelight Christmas Tours of the estate. The festivities will include musical performances, light refreshments, wine and wassail, and Christmas caroling, all of which embodies much of the traditional seasonal celebrations of the Madisons’ time period
Time: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Open house tours: 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)
Music Schedule: December 6, 2013 - Monticello High School Choir
December 7, 2013 - James Madison University Chamber Winds
December 13 & 14 - Connor Wood
Price: Adults: $35 at the door, $25 in advance, Children ages 6-14: $10, Children under 6: Free
These tours promise to be a fun, festival peak into the history of one of our founding fathers, so if you plan to stay at the Iris Inn on or near any of these dates, don’t miss out. (Montpelier is only an hour away, after all!)
November 30 is Small Business Saturday! 26 Nov 2013, 7:37 am
Small businesses are the heart of a community, offering “advantages to the surrounding community that large big box retailers cannot offer. Understanding those advantages can encourage customers to support their local merchants” (Chron). Small Business Saturday is “day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country,” and, as you may have guessed, the Iris Inn will be participating with a few special offers for one day only.
Remember those warm, soft robes that you slipped into during your Iris Inn getaway? How about the rich, bold coffee that you sipped while cozied up in the sheets of your bed? Bring back the memory of a stay at the Iris Inn by giving one of these gifts to a loved one for the holiday season. On November 30, Small Business Saturday, we will be offering free shipping on all of the following items found in our Store Front:
Furthermore, we have a special on Iris Inn Gift Cards as well—for every $200 gift card, we’ll include a $25 credit for our store front or massage services at the inn.
Note: These products are still being updated online, so all information may not be available yet, but we’ll do our best to have it all up soon!
Prepare for Pumpkin Pancakes 8 Nov 2013, 7:20 am
“Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…. We anxiously anticipate it every year.” –Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, October 2010
Heidi’s pumpkin pancakes are a favorite fall treat among guests at the Iris Inn, and it’s easy to see why—seasonal flavors of cinnamon and cloves, a light, light fluffy texture, and warmth for the stomach on a chilly morning. If you’d like a taste of our B&B in your own home, then indulge in a recipe for Heidi’s Famous Pumpkin Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine first 8 ingredients, and stir well.
Combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil in a bowl, then add to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour ¼ cup batter for each pancake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn and cook other side. (Unused batter can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.)
Yield: 18 (4-inch) pancakes.
Eat and enjoy!
October 20, 2013: Red visits Waynesboro, VA 21 Oct 2013, 6:36 am
We’ve had a huge variety of guests visit the Iris Inn during our time as innkeepers, and one of our latest visitors has served to further that diversity. The Red Chair stayed with us during the latter part of October, when the fall foliage was in full force and the nearby scenery was at its most glorious. Despite Red’s somewhat wooden sense of humor, we found him to be an enjoyable guest, a willing tourist of the Shenandoah Valley, and a newfound friend for our border collie, Katie.
As a seasonal celebration, we took Red to such Valley attractions as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, Ravens Roost Overlook, Crabtree Falls, and the Appalachian Trial suspension bridge over the Tye River. Red was quite proud of the way his painted hue complemented the fall leaves, and we had to agree. Autumn is definitely his season, and he is quite the photogenic subject!
Red’s legs were a bit tired after all of the outdoor exploration, so we grabbed a bite to eat at the Green Leaf Grill in downtown Waynesboro. We also found out that he had visited numerous breweries and wineries on his journey, but not so many cideries, so he was delighted to try a glass of local Bold Rock Hard Cider over lunch. Next, Red visited the P. Buckley Moss Museum and enjoyed viewing some local artwork. (He also thought he would look pretty stunning as a P. Buckley painting.)
A further highlight of Red’s trip to the Iris Inn was his interview with a local newspaper. We’re sure he feels like a celebrity after all of the press coverage he’s received during his travels, but he retained a sense of humility during the interview.
Red possesses a unique charm, and we were pleased to host him—however briefly—on his Virginia vacation. We wish him the best as his journey continues.
Photo by James Beeler
Try Out Barking Dog Wine in Staunton VA 17 Oct 2013, 6:10 pm
Staunton, Virginia has become widely known for its quirky, downtown atmosphere and small-town charm, and this is one of the reasons why John Reese chose it as the location of his wine bar. Barking Dog Wine is located on Beverly Street in the heart of downtown Staunton, an ideal locale for anyone desiring a glass of wine after a play at the Blackfriars Playhouse or a day of browsing the local shops. The wine bar features the products of some of our favorite nearby vineyards—Veritas, Bluestone, Blenheim, Jefferson, Barren Ridge, and Cardinal Point—paired perfectly with a variety of cheeses and sandwiches.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Barking Dog sounds fantastic! Why isn’t there more of a buzz about it?” And the answer is because it’s a new establishment. Barking Dog is only a few months old, having been opened this past summer. Owner John Reese has worked in the business world for thirty-five years, the last twelve of which were spent as Regional Vice President for Kohls. (Needless to say, Mr. Reese knows his way around the business world.) He and his wife decided to embark on a new adventure as proprietors in the world of wine.
The next question you may be asking yourself is, “How on earth did they come up with the name ‘Barking Dog’?” The wine bar was named after the Reese families three pet dachshunds, Charlie, Franklin, and Oscar. As Barking Dog’s Facebook states, “Every company has a CFO – meet Barking Dog’s. Charlie – Franklin – Oscar!”
If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere and a selection of excellent local wines, then plan a stop at Barking Dog.
Photo by Barking Dog Wine
Visit Staunton, Virginia’s Appalachian Piecework 9 Oct 2013, 7:37 am
In a time of technology, fast food, and instant gratification, sometimes traditional craftsmanship is overlooked and underappreciated. If you’re one of those people who value the meticulous labor that goes into handmade crafts, then you are certain to enjoy a local establishment in Staunton, Virginia—Appalachian Piecework: Weaver of Textiles and Wood.
“Woven for function and form,” every item at Appalachian Piecework is handmade by owner Laurie Gundersen, who describes herself as a “utilitarian folk artist.” Since the 1980s, she has been dyeing, quilting, weaving, spinning, basket-making, and managing her textile studio, first in West Virginia and then in Staunton, Virginia.
Gundersen’s crafts are especially unique because of their origins in scraps and rags, the “leftover” bits, if you will. Instead of tossing the scraps aside, Gundersen uses every bit of them, piecing them alongside each other in a unified display of art.
Appalchian Piecework features “accessories and home furnishings in a variety of styles, from shibori dyed scarves to hickory bark cuffs, handwoven pillows, runners and custom made articles,” as well as vintage quilts. (Gundersen restores, displays, and sells these stunning quilts, which date all the way back to the 1800s.) The shop is located at The Train Station, a part of one of Staunton’s historic districts, at 38 Middlebrooke Avenue, and she invites anyone interested to come and visit her wares.
If you’re staying at the Iris Inn, we definitely recommend making a trip to Staunton and visiting this uniquely beautiful demonstration of craftsmanship!
The Red Chair Travels to the Iris Inn 2 Oct 2013, 8:03 am
What is “The Red Chair”? Is it a new novel by Stephen King? Or perhaps a society of woodworkers? No, at its most basic, the Red Chair is just that—a red chair. It is a simple seat painted a vibrant shade of red, with origins at a bed and breakfast in New England. It began as the subject of a photo posted on Facbook and then traveled with a photographer from California who had asked to borrow it. Suddenly, the Red Chair had a greater purchase than just a place to park one’s posterior. It represented travel and exploration, and “became a symbol, a metaphor for connections made across invisible boundaries” (Red Chair Travels).
Now, the Chair has traveled all over New England and various other regions of the U.S., and it is beginning to make its way to Virginia. We know what you all are wondering: “Will the Red Chair be coming to the Iris Inn?” The answer is yes! On October 18, 19, and 20, 2013, we will be hosting the now-famous Red Chair, the poignant embodiment of a journey to new places. The Chair is certain to look magnificent with the autumn hues of the Shenandoah Valley as a backdrop, and we look forward to the appearance of this esteemed “guest.” If you would like to make a reservation for one of the Red Chair days, click here. Keep up with the Red Chair Travels here.
The Engagement of Chris and So-Yeon 19 Sep 2013, 9:10 am
As innkeepers at the Iris Inn, one of our favorite duties is facilitating romance, whether it’s by means of hosting weddings, providing cabins or anniversary retreats, or offering lodging to the “just because” romantic getaway. Sometimes, we are even able to help engagements come to fruition.
One of our recent guests, Chris, stayed here for a night with his lovely girlfriend (and soon-to-be fiancée) So-Yeon. He requested our help in finding the perfect location, a “place with a view,” and while we discussed Ravens Roost Overlook or the inn’s observation tower, ultimately we decided to bring King Family Vineyards in on the surprise. James King (one of the vineyard’s owners, of course) helped to make the proposal perfect, having a library bottle of 2007 Meritage at the ready and wearing a special label that read, “So-Yeon, will you marry me? –Chris.”
Chris and So-Yeon left the Iris Inn after a romantic stay in one of the cabins and a hearty breakfast the next morning. A little while later, we received a text message from Chris, saying, “She said yes!” A following text said, Thank you…you’ve been so much help. It almost seems like I wouldn’t have done this right without you.”
Conratulations to Chris and So-Yeon! We wish you the best as you plan your wedding, and thank you for letting us be a part of your engagement!
Mt. Torrey Furnace 11 Sep 2013, 9:43 am
Virginia is history. No, not in the sense that it’s “done for” or “over,” but rather that it is a portrait of the past. The Shenandoah Valley is certainly no exception, and one particular piece of history that lies near the Iris Inn in the George Washington National Forest is Mt. Torrey Furnace.
Mt. Torrey Furnace is exactly as its name suggests—a furnace. Built in 1804, it is a 40-foot tall iron furnace with a long, 19th century history: “Shut down in 1854, it was reopened seven years later to supply pig iron to Richmond’s Tredegar Iron Works for Confederate armaments. Tredegar purchased the furnace in 1863 to control its iron supply, but Union troops raided the site in 1864 and put it out of operation. Unlike many of the region’s furnaces, Mt. Torrey was put back into blast after the Civil War and remained in production until 1892 when it was finally abandoned” (The Virginia Landmarks Register). (Note: There are some conflicting dates about the destruction, renovation, and operation of the furnace, so the years may or may not be completely accurate.)
The stone structure is fascinating to visit, and it’s interesting to image the Civil War history surrounding it, as both Confederate and Union soldiers played a part in the operating and decommissioning of the furnace.
Dave and Margie’s Excellent Staunton Adventure on a Rainy Day 2 Sep 2013, 10:12 am
What is one to do on a rainy day in the Shenandoah Valley? Two of our Iris Inn guests, Dave and Margie, took the opportunity to explore Staunton, and they were kind enough to offer us a picture of their adventure itinerary.
The fun began at the Staunton/Augusta Farmer’s Market at the Wharf in Historic Downtown Staunton, Virginia. The Farmer’s Market offers locally homegrown and homemade produce and wares and “operates on a “not-for-profit” basis.” (Sometimes there are even live bands playing to provide entertainment for shoppers.)
Dave and Margie’s second stop was Sunspots Studios, which they describe as a “beautiful shop” with “nice people, jewelry, cards, and live glassblowing demos.” For more information about Sunspots, check out one of our past blogs.
Stop number three was Wilderness Adventure with its “great shoe selection” and “upstairs sale room.”
The fourth stop was the Ox-Eye Tasting Room, where Dave and Margie enjoyed a $5.00 tasting, a chat with the proprietors, and a tour of the artwork: “I can’t say enough good things about this place. You can find antique quilts, home spun yarns, and artwork, scarves. Owner Laurie Gurderson and daughter Nellie Rose work together.”
Next was Nu-Beginning Farm Store, or simply “The Store” to many of the locals. “Part cafe, part vegetable market, part coffeehouse, part grocery–all delicious. Chef is British. Amazing scones. Great soup and salads and sandwiches. Very affordable.”
Dave and Margie’s next stop was the Staunton National Cemetery: “The Staunton National Cemetery is interesting, especially for Civil War buffs. Many unknowns buried there.”
Lastly, Dave and Margie recommend Newtown Baking for its “amazing bread & cookies.” Newtown is “Staunton’s place to go for artisan breads and pastries…European style breads, Danish, croissant, bagels, and muffins all prepared fresh every day” (Newtown Baking).