A day or two after my post on local spring flowers and plants, the magnolia tree being one, I took a walk with my camera down a road near where I live. Looking for mossy growth and interesting plants to photograph I found a surprise awaiting me in the trees and undergrowth beside the road. Here is a picture of this surprise:
This tree is the Magnolia virginiana, or more commonly named Sweetbay magnolia, or Sweetbay. It was the first magnolia sent to England by horticulturist and missionary John Banister in 1478 and grown there although it was soon less popular when the larger flowered evergreen, Southern magnolia (M. grandiflora) was introduced. It grows in moist, wet soil which explains the many dead branches since past summers have had drought conditions. It is still cultivated today and has also been hybridized with other magnolia species. It is an evergreen depending on the climate. The flower has a very strong vanilla scent, different from my neighbor’s magnolia flower which has a flowery lemon scent. The perfume can be detected from these trees several hundred yards away! The wood has a scent similar to bay laurel is soft, straight grained and easily carved. It is used to make boxes, containers, furniture, veneer, lumber and pulpwood.
Of the flowers pictured below the one closest to the camera is white while the older flower is a vanilla color. These flower measured approximately six inches in diameter, much smaller than the magnolias I am familiar with.
Just to give an idea of the size of the larger magnolia species this is a huge flower from a neighbor’s tree up the street. It measures a foot across! These flowers are approximately two inches larger than my next door neighbor’s magnolia.
I took some pictures of spring flowers and new growth in my neighborhood. I thought it would be interesting, especially for those who don’t live here. The above picture of moss is in my yard where there are a lot of trees. The spring rains have made the moss even more beautiful. I’m going to do a post on moss soon.
Some early history of Chesterfield County; the Citie of Henricus founded in 1611 on the James River in hopes that it would replace swampy James Towne as a healthier alternative. When Pocahontas was captured she was first taken to James Towne but Henricus was considered safer from Indian attack and her capture, so she was then taken to the Citie of Henricus. It was there she converted to Christianity and met John Rolfe whose tobacco plantation, Varina Farm (Varina, VA), was just across the James from Henricus. There were important coal mines here also (Mid-Lothian Mines Park). They were one of the first major industrial sites in the country. The coal supplied the furnaces at the ammunition factory at Westham near the present day Huguenot Bridge, crossing the James into Richmond, which supplied ammunition for Revolutionary War cannons. Union troops during the Civil War considered them a main target for capture. The mines have since played out and have been filled in.
This magnolia bud is about to blossom. The heady perfume fills the air, it flowers all summer long. This is the same blossom the next day.The insects are attracted by the sweet odor.Almost all the petals have fallen on this one and by fall the stamen will become full of red seeds.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when I started out on my bike to visit Gather, a unique retail store housed in an old country store that was in operation in 1851. When I spoke with the owner, Melissa, on the phone about writing a post on her store, she expressed concern that it was dark in the back of the store where her paintings were. I told her I use a simple point and shoot camera. The SLR camera I recently purchased, I’m still on the learning curve and can’t use just yet. My P&S camera’s low light pictures usually don’t turn out very well, although the “low” light situation didn’t turn out to be a problem thankfully.
Flowers in a nearby yard greeted cheerily me as I peddled my way out of the neighborhood,The present owners (Melissa and her husband) live next door in a lovely white and cream tin roof farmhouse that will be appearing in the magazine, Fresh Cottage! They rescued the derelict old store and repurposed it as an art gallery for Melissa’s oil paintings. On the Gather website it says they discovered the old store in much need of repair, when they were riding their bikes – their home next door came later. The building has probably had different owners and uses over the years. It now has a new purpose and a new life! I feel certain the neighbors and other Powhatan residents are grateful for the change and to see their store with a new face. The store also has antiques, vintage and new furniture, accessories, jewelry, soaps, aromatherapy and other items, many of them hand crafted.
I came upon this lovely old church, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Old Hundred Rd…
I turned into Mt. Herman Rd. and in a few minutes I was at the railroad crossing and there was the old store. There is a pleasant little garden on the side where you can sit and eat a box lunch prepared by a chef! Orders for lunch are called in a day or so ahead.
I love the functioning old shutters.
This mirror is surrounded by a window frame.At first I thought this was an apron. Upon closer inspection they are frilly summer table cloths!Some of Melissa’s oil paintings handsomely displayed and by the way, nicely lit by track lighting!
Belts and a long summer dress for a little girl.
Have you ever wanted hot steaming bread right from the oven dripping with butter and thought it was beyond your reach because of the time and effort involved? Well think again! Anyone can have fresh hot bread and it’s only minutes away with simple basic ingredients and your microwave!
After reading this post you will never have to run out to the store or make that extra stop because you have run out of bread for dinner! It is so good you will feel sorry for anyone that has the retail store as their only source for bread! At tops it will take ten minutes and you will have hot bread oozing with butter (if you like butter!) sitting on your dinner table! You will save time, yes time…it is an anomaly that cooking from scratch takes more time! Not to mention the money and energy savings because you cook it in your microwave and use basic ingredients (gasoline for that extra stop, electricity or gas required for baking in the oven, more expensive packaged mixes) and your bread will have lots of flavor because it’s made from scratch! It’s a win/win situation!
Most quick bread or muffin recipes will work. I like cornbread and make it often. Any number of ingredients can be added; cheddar cheese, sliced fresh jalapeño peppers, blueberries, blackberries, chopped bacon, chives, green onions, herbs or a combination of some of these ingredients. Cooked ground beef mixed with taco seasoning, onion, jalapeño peppers, cheddar cheese can be put on the bottom of the baking pan and cornbread batter poured on top for a complete meal. Be creative!
Any container that is microwavable can be used to mix and bake the bread. I use self-rising (leavening already added makes it faster, easier) stone ground cornmeal (there is less heat involved with the processing and includes the germ of the corn kernel, making it nutritionally better for you). I also add self-rising white flour in an approximate 1:1 ratio with the cornmeal. You don’t have to add the flour, the corn meal can be used by itself, giving it a more rustic look and texture rather than being soft cake-like.
Using basic ingredients usually ensures that a recipe will turn out well. Ingredients that come already pre-mixed in a package (more than what is recommended here) usually have other ingredients added that affect the flavor, like corn starch, soybean flour (cheep filler), stabilizers, (salt and sugar are added to masque the fact there is no flavor!) and is made to sit on a shelf a long time.
The great thing is you don’t have to be exact with cornbread when it is made with basic ingredients. It’s hard to hurt the results! Add oil, melted butter, melted margarine, or a combination of these, approximately 1:4; one part fat to four parts flour. If you add more or less don’t worry about it. You can add a lightly scrambled raw egg for more protein for every two cups of flour/meal if you desire. Add a tablespoon or more of sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia, depending on the flavor you want and how sweet you want it to be.
More sugar can be added for sweeter breads. Just add water, buttermilk, or milk and stir all the ingredients together in the baking dish to make a thick pouring consistency. Stir approximately ten strokes and you’re done! Now it is ready to be put into the microwave in the same container! Depending on the size of your cookware and microwave, it could take between one and a half minutes to five minutes. If your bread has about two or more cups of flour/meal set the power level on seven, otherwise use full power.
Open the microwave door after a minute and a half and touch the center. If the top is very moist then it is done! If it is check again after another minute. When it is done take it out of the microwave and let it sit for a minute or two. Then slice and enjoy!
Can this be Vienna?…Paris?…Rome?…A beautiful Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy? The Palazzo Medici Riccardi of the Medici family? Mmmmmm…Possibly…Renaissance?…Yes…Only fast forward from the 15th century to the late 19th century. It is Italian Renaissance Revival, not Florence, Italy, but Main St. Station, Richmond (1500 East Main St.) Virginia, USA! The Medici family wanted to live a low profile since their return from exile, rejecting Bunelleschi influenced architect Bartolomeo’s earlier plan, but inside the Palace was another story! Main St. Station is possibly closer in looks to the architectural plans that didn’t happen!
It does have connections to Europe, it was the British Embassy in Vienna in 2004 for the television series Alias. I have been wanting to return to the handsome “Renaissance Revival beauty” to take more pictures. I got my chance when I dropped my sister off to catch the Mega Bus (inexpensive bus travel for those that have more time on their hands but can have long delays), Amtrak is faster and more expensive with no delays. The travel options are increasing, a high speed train is in the not too distant future.
I took about ten pictures my first visit. This week, I took about thirty-five, including the interior. A great photo-op for any picture taker.
The Station (1500 East Main St., Richmond, VA)built in 1901 in the Beaux Arts Style was adapted to what is termed the Second Renaissance Revival Style. 54.1 million dollars was spent on the renovation, transforming a partially fire gutted building with additional problems, but what a transformation! I understand the Train Shed may become a shopping area once again, but that is tentative. In its recent past it housed government offices. What’s for certain is the Station is to be the northern terminus of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. It will become a very busy place! Currently Amtrak commuter trains to Washington D.C. use the station. There didn’t appear to be much train traffic for a weekday afternoon. Only one other person besides myself, a gentleman waiting for a train for the hour I was there, although several travelers arrived as I was leaving. All that will change with the high speed train! I hope the appearance of the station doesn’t change too much. My advice would be to visit it now.
As you can see by the photos below it is a beautiful building that rivals many old buildings in Europe, with an American flair! Something else about this building, the Stations’ huge rooms can be rented out for weddings (yes, for the entire event!) (railroad enthusiasts take note), parties, etc. It’s an incredibly beautiful interior, even more so in person. It has an honest American elegance without being “over done.”.
If you like these pictures some of them will be available as prints at; Maisonarmoire.etsy.com, or e-mail me for info on prints. Usually photography with at least 12X pixels looks better than on a computer screen because of its lower pixel density.
I have been in a sort of quandry about what I want this blog to be and I am also still deciding what type of white paint and technique to use on the upper kitchen cabinets. Please be patient with me! I’ve read you should specialize in one area, but It’s hard for me to stay on just one topic, there are so many things I am interested in – just like Martha Stewart. . . RIGHT! Someone recently told me to “Just write about what you are interested in.” sounds like good advice to me!
Thinking I really needed a camera that was more flexible than my P&S (photographers’ jargon for a point and shoot camera) and be able to change the aperature (speed) and focusing area, I just purchased a four year old Pentax K-20 DSLR camera in almost mint condition with 14 pixels and no video. I’m mainly concerned with getting good pictures right now, if I really need video I can use my P&S.
Little did I know how much some lenses cost for SLR’s until I got on the Pentax Forum site and started reading about cameras. Fortunately I can use my father’s old manual Pentax lenses that were barely used on the model I purchased, which came with only a camera body, it also uses lenses that focus at the touch of a button. Pentax is known for being able to adapt older lenses on newer models in addition to being a quality camera for the money (approximately half the cost of a Nikon for the same features!). From what I understand Canon and Nikon lenses are far more expensive and can not be used on newer models.
SLR’s are new territory for me and I am still working things out. They require more study and come with editing software CD’s (converting raw images into other formats) that are uploaded onto your computer.
This camera is more like a pro camera in that it is built like a tank, weighs several pounds and weather sealed, for the more serious shooter! If dropped, in most cases, it won’t break. You can take pictures in the rain. I have read testimonies of these cameras falling into swimming pools and not being affected!
Only if you are really into photography you may not want to take this camera on a vacation, unless you don’t mind lugging extra pounds around. Bridge cameras (generally have longer telescoping lenses than P&S but do not have interchangeable lenses like DSLRs) are lighter, I understand Nikon and Canon’s Intro DSLRs and of course the P&S are much lighter also. Presently I am mostly using my P&S but as I practice with my SLR and get to know it I hope to use it for my blog and other photography interests.