Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ryan's Case For Smiles


I saw a notice in the paper about a group that makes pillowcases for children in the hospital.  This is an organization called Ryan's Case for Smiles.  They try to give a pillowcase to every child admitted to the hospital.  In this case, the local group gives the cases to the children in Carilion's Children's Hospital.  There are a lot of organizations that focus on research and cures, but Ryan's Case tries to improve the quality of life for the children undergoing treatment.

The article was asking for volunteers.  It sounded like the kind of thing I would like.  I got in touch with my friend Doris and she said she would go with me.  In addition to showing up and helping, they asked for donations and 1 1/2 yards of colorful fabric.


I brought my sewing machine and Doris brought fabric for both of us.  The event was held at the Church of the Transfiguration in Fincastle.  There were several stations set up to make cases in an assembly line.  The fabric was already cut for the body and the top hem.  One group folded and pinned the cloth for the first seam.  They used a "burrito" fold, which I had never heard of.


I was paired with another newcomer to sew that seam on the "burrito" and pass it on to the ironing and finishing stations.


Over the course of the day we made 200 finished pillowcases and had many in various stages of completion.  It was a tiring day for me, because it hurts to sit for long periods of time, but I met a lot of nice people and I felt good about doing something for children.  If you hear about a group in your area, you might want to check it out. No sewing skills necessary!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


I took a few days off from making baskets.  I have bags and bins of fabric.  But I was getting no inspiration.  So I went to Jo Ann's fabric.  I know.  I KNOW!  I have no business going there.  But I did.  I went to my supplier.

I was walking past the batik section.  I really like working with batiks.  Nothing caught my eye.  Later I went past the same shelf, but going in a different direction.  It is strange how looking at something from a different perspective changes your perception.  I pulled out one I liked.  Then I found another that went with the first. INSPIRATION!


I pulled another three bolts of fabric and eagerly waited my turn at the cutting table.  Then drove home and started cutting.


This one is from the two batiks.  I thought the teals went well with this silver arrow and turquoise bead decoration.


Next I am going to work with this midnight blue universe fabric with pops of yellow stars.  Even  before I start o. a basket, I start thinking about what embellishment I might want to use.  I like these silver charms.  But the beads of different colored stones is also a possibility.


The large gold heart locket works nicely with the yellow stars.  I guess I will have to wait and see what I feel like when I finish the basket. That is part of the fun, trying to make all the elements work together.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Check it out

I was recently asked if I would like to have my blog listed on this site  It is called Site Hound Sniffs and they list sites that they have gone to and found no problems, such as bugs and viruses.  Then Site Hound  lists them according to the topics covered within the blogs.

I checked them out and they seemed legit, so I happily gave permission to list Shenandoah Gateway Farm.  This has resulted in more visits to my blog.  I don't any money for this.  It is just a creative outlet and something to do for fun, so the only payoff I get is to see how many visitors I get.  So if you have a blog and want a lot of visitors, this is a good thing!

And if you are looking for a blog or many blogs to follow, then this is the place to go to find a lot of safe ones.  Try it out!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jigsaw or Wasgij?

The Fincastle Library now has jigsaw puzzles you can borrow.  We got one for the winter days when we couldn't go out and didn't feel like working.  It was a Ravensburger puzzle and we liked it.  So when Lee was wandering through a Goodwill store he found a Ravensburger puzzle and bought it for us.

This was a different kind of puzzle and one we had never seen!  It is so different they call it a Wasgij puzzle, or jigsaw spelled backward. The picture on the box was only an indication of what the puzzle was supposed to be.  The real puzzle was in the future from the picture on the box.  This was not an easy puzzle.  Imagine working a puzzle when you don't know what the outcome is supposed to be.


We started putting together pieces that fit, but we didn't know where to put them within the borders of the puzzle.  It started to get very frustrating.  That is when we decided to cheat. Yeah, I said it.  Cheat.

I Googled the name of the puzzle and wouldn't you know it?  There was a site to find the actual puzzle design.  It seems another person had had the same issue and so he bought and completed the puzzles and took pictures of the finished product.  Cool, I thought!  Then I realized that he was charging for the finished puzzle.  Not a lot, but I am cheap.

I found another site and downloaded the picture, but it was fuzzy and hard to read.  But at least it gave us an indication of how to go on with this puzzle.

We finished the puzzle and are going to donate it to the library the next time we go. As a public service to all future wasgij solvers, I took a picture of the puzzle before I took it apart and I printed it out. I put the picture in an envelope and placed it in the box the box with the wasgij pieces.

If someone wants to solve the puzzle, and not be a CHEATER, they can do that.  But if they are lazy, (that's me!), they can open the envelope and cheat away.  Or just check below!


Just another example of the customer service we provide to the community.  Oh, NO!  Don't thank us.  Just being neighborly.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blueberry Puff Pastry Pinwheels

I have been posting a lot of recipes for breakfast treats using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry.  I found them on Tasty .  I find a lot of good recipes there.  You should check them out. 

I am always looking for items to add to the Bed and Breakfast repertoire.  These puff pastry treats are sure to be hits!

Blueberry Puff Pastry Pinwheels

1 sheet thawed puff pastry
36 fresh blueberries
9 Tablespoons cream cheese mixture
powdered sugar


cream cheese mixture

1 block softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


I made the cream cheese mixture and it was enough for all three of the puff pastry treats I posted on this blog.  If you don't make all of them, you can make a smaller amount or save it for a bagel some morning.


Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl with the sugar and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.


Heat the oven to 400°.  Place parchment paper or a Silpat on a baking sheet.


Unfold the puff pastry.  I like to dust the counter with a bit of flour, but there is some flour on the puff pastry.  Cut it into 9 squares. 


Take one square and cut from the corners towards the middle.  Leave a space in the center.  Cut it like this.


 Wet your finger and moisten the center.  This will help the pastry to stick together.  Fold one side of each cut to the center, making a pinwheel.  Like this.  Do this for all the squares and transfer them to the baking sheet.


Place a generous Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of the pinwheel and then gently press four blueberries into the cream cheese mixture. 


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.


Let the pastries cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet.  Put a paper towel on your counter and then put a cooling rack on top of the paper towel.  Transfer the pastries to the cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes or so.  Sprinkle powdered sugar all over the blueberries pinwheels.  Serve slightly warm. 

(Full disclosure.  I was in such a hurry to take the pictures and try these blueberry delights that I forgot to dust them with powdered sugar.  Trust me, I did that for Lee, but then I forgot to take another picture.  Getting old.)


Cooking blueberries cause them to pop and ooze blueberries juices.  Combine that with the creamy sweetness and crispy puff pastry and you have a delightful, and slightly messy, breakfast treat.


Remember, blueberries are high in antioxidants so this is HEALTHY. That's right.  I said it.  Healthy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Strawberry Puff Pastry Diamonds

I recently found a series of four recipes on Buzzfeed Tasty using puff pastry.  (They have a great site and I recommend you visit it.)  I use puff pastry a lot in the morning treats I make for our Bed and Breakfast guests.  You can't serve food to guests that you haven't tried and eaten yourself!  That is my excuse for trying these recipes.  And eating these recipes.  Some guests see a recipe I post on my blog and request it for breakfast.  With enough advanced notice, this is usually accommodated.

Make sure to tell me you saw it on my blog!


Strawberry Puff Pastry Diamonds

1 sheet thawed puff pastry
5 strawberries, halved
9 Tablespoons cream cheese mixture
powdered sugar


Cream Cheese mixture

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Unwrap the cream cheese and place it in a medium bowl. 


Add the sugar and the vanilla.  Mix well until combined.


Heat the oven to 400°.  Place a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat on a sheet pan and set aside.


Unfold the sheet of puff pastry.  It is OK if it is still very cold.  That will make it easier to work with.  I sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of flour on the counter to keep it from sticking.


Cut the pastry into three long strips and then divide each strip into thirds.  You will have 9 squares.

Take one square and fold it in half to form a triangle. leaving a 1/4 inch border, cut from the folded corner almost to the open corner at the top.  Leave about 1/3 of an inch uncut.  Like this.


Open the square and fold one corner to align on the opposite inside corner.  Then do the same to the other side.  Like this.  Now you have a diamond.


Transfer the pastry diamonds to the prepared pan.  Place a Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of the diamond.   Place one half of a strawberry on top of the cream cheese and press gently.  Do this with all the squares of puff pastry. 


Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Cool for a few minutes on the pan.  Place a sheet of paper towel under a cooling rack.  Transfer the pastries to the cooling rack.  When they are mostly cool, sprinkle powdered sugar over the pastries.  The paper towel underneath will make clean up easier.  And you won't be tempted to lick the counter.


Serve slightly warm and covered with powdered sugar.  The warm strawberries are tart and the cream cheese mixture is sweet.  Combine this with the crunchy pastry and this is a delightful two bite treat for our breakfast guests.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Raspberry Puff Pastry Flower

I saw this great recipe on Buzzfeed Tasty .  This is a great site to see fun recipes.  I thought it would be a good option for our Bed and Breakfast guests.  I don't like to repeat the same meal and some people stay for a week and then they come back.  I need to have a large repertoire of tasty breakfast treats.


Raspberry Puff  Pastry Flowers

1 sheet puff pastry
20 raspberries
4 Tablespoons cream cheese mixture
powdered sugar


Cream Cheese mixture

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


This makes more than you will need for the four pastries listed here.  I saved the rest for other pastries.

Remove one of the puff pastry sheets from the package.  Seal the package with tape and return it to the freezer.  Make the cream cheese mixture while the puff pastry thaws on the counter.


Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Add the sugar and the vanilla.  Mix until blended.  Set aside.


Set the oven to 400°.  Place a Silpat or parchment paper on a sheet pan.  Unfold the puff pastry.  It is OK if it is still a bit frozen, but it should unfold and not crack apart!  I like to sprinkle a teaspoon of flour on my counter to prevent sticking, but the pastry has some flour on it, so that is not always necessary.

Use a rolling pin and your fingers to eliminate the fold lines.  Roll into a square and then cut it into four equal pieces.

Using a paring knife, cut a 1/4 inch border at each corner. Leave about 1/2 inch uncut in the center of each side, like so.


Place a generous Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each square.  Place four raspberries on top of the cream cheese.

Gently lift each corner and fold it over to the center of the pastry, pressing them together where they meet.  Place one more raspberry in the center.  Transfer the pastry to the prepared pan and bake for 15- 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.


Let the pastries sit on the sheet pan for about five minutes.  Place a sheet of waxed paper or a paper towel on the counter and place a cooling rack on top of it.  Transfer the pastries to the cooling rack.  Finish cooling and them dust the top with powdered sugar. 


I like to serve them when still a bit warm.  The raspberries will ooze open and the creamy center adds just the right touch of sweetness.  The crispy pastry crunches nicely and is the perfect vessel for this tart and sweet treat.