Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Pearl of Wisdom

Pictured left to right: Laurie Blakey and Laura Condrey,
co-owners of Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe.
Photo by: Alix Hines
      ​On the morning of every childhood birthday, Laurie Blakey, co-owner of Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe, recalls going to her grandmother’s house where her favorite cupcakes were awaiting her. Blakey explained that her grandmother, Pearl, made every birthday special by having a house full of fresh flowers, a present and cupcakes waiting for her grandchildren when they arrived early on the morning of their special days. She said that Pearl made miniature orange blossom cupcakes, her favorite, for every birthday. Now Blakey features the same cupcake at her shop, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe.
     ​Co-owners Laurie Blakey and Laura Condrey opened Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe March 1, 2010 at 5812 Grove Ave. Blakey and Condrey had worked together for years in the real estate business before they ventured into the world of cupcakes. Blakey had retired and was at her beach house. She explained that she was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life when a show about cupcakes came on T.V. While she was watching the show and contemplating her next move, Condrey called to catch up with her friend. Blakey then told Condrey about her idea to start a cupcake shop. Condrey immediately said she wanted to be a part of creating the business.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tanya Gonzalez: A Career of Culture

          Witnessing the triumphs of a community working to achieve the “American dream,” and helping families that have had a family member deported, are just a few of the events Tanya Gonzalez, manager of the Hispanic Liaison Office in Richmond, experiences during a day at work.
Gonzalez has been the manager of the Hispanic Liaison office since 2004 and describes her job as a juggling act because the office works in reaction to the needs of the Hispanic community it serves.
            Gonzalez’s roots are in Mexico, where her father was born. A disconnect from her culture during her teen years left Gonzalez searching for her roots in college. Eventually she was able to reconnect with her Mexican heritage and that has translated to her work with the Richmond Hispanic community. Gonzalez’s Hispanic culture isn’t just a part of her past but part of her daily life and the way she combines her passion for culture with her compassion for the people she serves.
            “I think that this job for her [Gonzalez] isn’t just a job, it’s almost like a mission,” Mayela Heifetz, a volunteer at the Hispanic Liaison Office, pointed out.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time Traveling: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Ruth and Jack Johnson at the Virginia Historical Society's Civil War exhibit.
Photo by: Alix Hine

         About 150 years ago, history teacher Ruth Johnson’s great, great grandfather arrived in the United States as one of the many three-hundred dollar soldiers joining the fray during the Civil War. On the boat from Europe, he met the young lady he would eventually fall in love with.
When they arrived in America, the two soul mates parted ways. She went to live with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and he went on to Philadelphia to join the Union army to take the place of a man that didn’t wish to fight for the North. He later relocated to Cincinnati where fate took over and he encountered his love once again.
“They were walking on opposite sides of the street along one of the main streets in Cincinnati and they saw each other again…” Johnson said.

A National Treasure Hunt

          Andy Beyer lived in Harrisburg, Pa., for seven years and never knew there was a waterfall in her hometown. One day as she was passing through, she decided to stop and do some geocaching. Her GPS lead her to a cache near a waterfall that she never knew existed. She skeptically went to the location and found not only the cache she was looking for, but the waterfall as well.
Geocaching is a game that involves people across the nation and the world hiding objects for others to find, and then posting the location online. After the location is posted, anyone can look for that object using a GPS or a smartphone. Participants visit the geocaching website, type in their zip code, and then the website provides the user the coordinates of geocaches near them. Beyer said that the geocachers enter the coordinates into their GPS and start looking for the cache.
“Geocaching is using multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods,” Diane Leiter, a member of the Central Virginia Geocaching Association, said.