Maymont Park, part 2; the mansion tour

IMG_1950When you visit Maymont Park, be sure to sign up for a tour of the mansion.  Seriously, take the tour of the mansion!!!  While many historical homes are open to the public, quite often, they are furnished with replicas or pieces from the time period-sometimes just a few to supplement the collection and other times, the majority of the furnishings fall into this catergory.  This is where Maymont Mansion shines; nearly everything in the house actually belonged to James and Sallie Dooley.  From the painted walls to the light fixtures and table ware and furniture.  Because they did not have any children, they made the decision to leave the mansion and its contents as well as the land around it to the city of Richmond.

The front parlor is set up to receive guests just as Mrs. Dooley might have.  So much of this room glittered with gold; on the walls, on the light fixtures and the room itself was glowing and pink.

IMG_1951The thing that caught my eyes-the ceiling.  All hand painted and all original to the house.

IMG_1952The depth of the details, all hand applied and beautiful.

IMG_1953Throughout the house, not a detail was spared.  In the parlor next to the front parlor, the details were mostly silver in color.  While this light fixture is actually sterling silver, the rest of the details in this room were actually aluminum, a metal which was more precious than platinum in that era.

IMG_6399Of course, my favorite room was the dining room.  The table was set for a formal dinner with the best furnishings they had.

IMG_6400The glasses, the china and the flowers…overly ornate, perhaps but I would love to set a table like this!

IMG_6401To preserve the quality of the furnishings, the lighting is low and it was a challenge to take photos with a hand held camera.

IMG_6402Coveting the glasses is not a sin…

IMG_1955And while my camera was challenged, my cell phone was not!

IMG_6407Standing just outside the dining room, this was the overall view of the table as my camera saw it.

IMG_1954and this is what my cellphone saw.  Same room, same lighting-cell phone cameras are pretty sophisticated!

IMG_6404One of the main features of the house are the Tiffany stained glass windows in the stair well leading to the second floor.  They are 15 feet tall and some of the most beautifully detailed windows I have ever seen.

IMG_6405It was a bright sunny day and the windows glowed with the light.

IMG_6409IMG_6414A visit to the estate just to see the windows is well worth the time!

IMG_6417Some of the few things that did not actually belong to Sallie Dooley are actually clothing such as this dress.  While it is from the time period, it was not hers but it is still a stunning example of the era.

IMG_6421In her bedroom, a trunk of ladies gloves and lingerie was on display.

IMG_1957And then there is her bed.  She had a love of swans and this is the actual bed she slept in.

IMG_6420Obviously hand carved and painted, it is the thing of fairy tales…

IMG_6426Her bedroom was just one of the many rooms in the house that gave you a real sense of who they were.  Please take a trip to Maymont Park and visit the mansion and gardens, you will not regret it!

To read about our walk through the gardens, click here

a visit to Maymont Park in Richmond, part 1

IMG_6378If you have been visiting this blog, you know that I frequently post photos about the places I visit, especially if they have a garden.  In our quest to explore Virginia, my husband and I came across Maymont Park in Richmond.  We were first attracted to the park because of the gardens and the fact that it is an arboretum as well as the mansion tour but the $5 donation is what convinced us to go.  While we do not have a problem paying to visit a site such as this, it can get expensive if you try to go somewhere every week, especially if you must also travel an hour or more each way.  We packed a cooler and hit the road to Richmond during the week to avoid the crowds.

The grounds are extensive and I suggest grabbing a map as you enter.  We followed the trails down hill to the Japanese garden and began taking in the sites.  The Dooleys were serious gardeners and this first photo is a reflecting pond outside a grotto that is carved into the hillside.

IMG_6380Pardon me, I have a thing for reflections and I take photos of them all the time…

IMG_6382As we walked the trail, there was so much to see.  The pond, the plants, the trees and the structures.  The Dooleys spared nothing and built a beautiful landscape.

IMG_6384We ventured out onto this raised walkway over the pond and quickly saw that the pond is full of fish.

IMG_6385Beautiful Koi to be exact and many of them were well over a foot long.

IMG_6389Dragonflies are abundant here as well, and they came in many colors.

IMG_6390Water lilies; how I wish I had a pond or a water feature in my garden that I could fill with water lilies!

IMG_6393Turtles were also abundant.  This is an Eastern Painted Turtle.

IMG_6394So many of the decorations and structures were added by the Dooleys and have managed to stay in tact nearly 90 years after they passed away.

IMG_6395If you take the mansion tour, you will see a photo of this bridge and sculpture in the house.  Do yourself a favor, go to the Japanese garden and walk over the bridge, it is beautiful.

IMG_6443The park itself is huge and I suggest you spend the entire day exploring it.  We took a quick walk through the wildlife area and I spied this little waterfall in an enclosure with Bald Eagles.

IMG_6448At the top of the hill above the Japanese Garden is the Italian Garden.  It is much smaller and easier to get to-no steep hills to climb.

IMG_6452And an Italian Garden is not complete without a pergola and this one is a welcomed relief from the heat of the sun!IMG_6453This garden was so colorful and I wanted to walk through it more but the heat…

IMG_6455Another feature, the Italian Gazebo.  There is so much to see and it must all be done by walking.  Be prepared for that, bring water and wear the right shoes.  We will go back, we want to see the seasons and visit some of the specialty gardens that we did not linger in for long.

We did take the mansion tour, you can read all about that here.  Get out and explore, you will be surprised by what is right in your own backyard.

a visit to the South of the James Farmer’s Market

IMG_6268This summer, we are visiting as many farmers markets in our region as we can.  After living here for nearly two years, it was time to get out and see what the area has to offer.  On a lovely summer morning, we drove up to Richmond to visit the South of the James Farmer’s Market to see what was in season.  The market is held in Forest Hill Park and while there is parking available, street parking is also easy to find.

When you enter the market from the parking area, you will notice that there is a long and narrow path of vendors lined on both sides as you walk through the market.  It starts out with a few food vendors and as you walk in, the offerings run from produce, plants, hand made crafts, wine, seafood, meat, cheese and so much more than I can recall.  This is another producer-only market so do not expect to find everything you are looking for-farmers aren’t magicians and they can’t make it happen if it isn’t in season!  Another aspect of the producers only rule is that local artisans can also sell their work at the market and if you are looking for something unusual or simply not mass produced, you could quite possibly find it at the market too!

IMG_6271The folks at Drumheller’s get around!  They sell in Williamsburg at the market too and I love their apple cider but it’s peach season and they were selling them by the bag.

IMG_6273When in the Chesapeake area, expect to find crab cakes-we have seen them at several markets and they always look so tempting but I am not a big fan of crab cakes for breakfast.

IMG_6276The stems of swiss chard are so beautiful-I know, I take pictures of chard at every market.  What’s not to love about peppermint chard?  Those stripes…

IMG_6277Local cheeses are abundant in the markets.

IMG_6279Finding Kombucha at the market is pretty easy here, we have seen it at the Charlottesville market too.

IMG_6286Gotta love the trailer,  too bad some jerk stole their generator!

IMG_6288Fresh coffee anyone?  Another great little trailer that was equipped with an espresso machine for that morning fix.

IMG_6294Summer has arrived; berries anyone???

IMG_6295Or maybe some fresh picked beans?

IMG_6296Although they always taste the same, I always reach for the yellow ones and the purple ones first.

IMG_6297Not sure what variety this cauliflower is but when ours looked fuzzy like this, I thought something was wrong with it.  Apparently, this variety is a bit fuzzy.

IMG_6299Also available was everyone’s favorite fractal; Romanesco along with cheddar.

IMG_6302Carrots by the bunch

IMG_6304And goats too!  These goats weren’t for sale but they were very friendly and optimistic.

IMG_6305They assumed that any edibles were there for the taking as this little guy found out when the goat reached over and cleaned up his snack tray!

IMG_6306There were plenty of options for food and we had noodles for lunch.

IMG_6315Freshly stir-fried and served with shrimp.

IMG_6309As we walked out of the market, we saw this odd pack on a man’s back.

IMG_6307Apparently, they test products and this was a carrying case for a cat!  What a cute cat he was too!

IMG_6308Get out there and explore the markets!  Learn about the real offerings of the season and not what the grocery store carries, it’s fresher, it tastes better and it’s a great way to spend a couple hours!  My only other suggestion, skip the restrooms up at the top of the hill in the parking area-one of the worst rest room experiences we have had!!!

Virginia Bloggers Meetup; Whisk Bakery in RVA

IMG_1033Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of ladies who also happen to be fellow members of the Virginia Bloggers.  It was a rainy and somewhat dreary Saturday morning but it was perfect for drinking coffee and eating freshly baked sweets.  Whisk is located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond and this was the first time I had ever been to that part of the city.  (pardon the lousy cell phone photo, please!)

IMG_1034Most of these ladies knew each other, or at least were familiar with each other, but there were a few that were new to the group, myself being one of them.  The bakery is a bit small but we pulled a few tables together and spent our time chatting, trading business cards and getting to know each other.

IMG_1037Of course, there were a few cameras out on the table and a bunch of cell phones so that we could all take photos.

IMG_5549It was great to meet such a friendly bunch of ladies and trade information.

IMG_5551My hope is to attend more of these meet-ups but it is a bit of a drive from Williamsburg, however, if the destination is another place like this, I will take one for the team!

IMG_5553Before leaving, I picked a small selection of sweets to take home to Darry.  These two were all but glued to the showcase-can you blame them?

IMG_5552Most of the ladies that came out despite the rainy weather.  If you are a blogger and live in Virginia, join the group and if you are interested in what is going on, visit the website.