After enduring almost a week (a bit of it spent in the South Carolina Upcountry) with unprecedented rainfall and no sunshine, I, like so many others, had settled into a serious funk. Fortunately my cure was as simple as some sunshine and attending the Garden Club of Virginia’s annual Flower Arranging School. This fitting antidote starred former White House floral designer Laura Dowling.
Trained in the French floral tradition most notably by Christian Tortu, Ms. Dowling transformed seasonal flowers and greens into the most delicious arrangements as she shared fond stories of her White House days. Not only did Ms. Dowling create joyous inspiration for the Garden Club ladies, she provided solid tips for the sold-out crowd. Take a peek.
This baroque design includes an integrated container, which is a key component of French floral design, covered in lambs ears held in place with a rubber band.
Container designs are built from the outside in. While the outer support foliage in French designs may be anchored in oasis, their stems support the flowers, so the flowers can sit above the oasis in the deep containers, giving more height to the arrangement.
Foliage and greenery are necessary to give French floral designs their volume.
After the container is covered with eucalyptus, Ms. Dowling uses salal leaves (a/k/a lemon leaves) as the outer structure. We watched her add roses for structure and hydrangeas for focal points, then ivy for movement.
Ms. Dowling’s favorite green rose, Wimbledon, looks great in this green hand-tied bouquet with just a touch of pink. The hellebores spikes add movement.
Fall arrangements demand berries. Here they are attached to the integrated container.
As she spoke, Ms. Dowling created this tabletop design featuring balloonplant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), along with snowberries, hellebores, hydrangeas and roses, swirled into an oasis block covered in plastic and hidden under an aspidistra leaf.
The ruffley Freespirit rose has shades of pink, orange, yellow and peach, so this hand-tied bouquet can handle the fuchsia orchid.
The integrated container in this rococo design was created by hot glueing dried hydrangea florets to the vase.
As a raffle winner, lucky cFl got to take home our favorite arrangement .
While these creations brought smiles to our faces and loads of inspiration, we still can’t stop thinking about our many friends in South Carolina still suffering from the 1000-year rainfall of this past weekend. Right now flower arrangements aren’t going to help the displaced with their clean-up. Fortunately beauty is arriving in the form of down and dirty assistance from unlikely quarters: a football team helping its arch-rival’s athletic director and the Kappa Alpha order at USC (where Ellen’s son is a brother) cleaning up over 15 houses on Tuesday. Blessings to the victims and their saviors. Once again the South Carolina folks are providing their own gracious inspiration for the nation.
As it happened, I took a post-makeup counter detour last Thursday to my favorite department at Dillard’s: the purse collection. I noticed that the store had rearranged some of the displays, and as I was looking around, I did a double-take when I spied this new counter.
James Avery in Dillards? I couldn’t believe my eyes and immediately contacted Ellen who said jSl,a James Avery employee, gave her a head’s up on the retailer’s move into Dillards.
For years several of the posse have spoken in reverent tones about this Texas jeweler. I always felt a little left out when they would reminisce about their favorite items purchased or received from James Avery stores sprinkled throughout the Lone Star State. They could even buy James Avery charms, bracelets and rings in the camp stores at such famed Texas summer camps as Camp Longhorn.
For Texas girls, James Avery has always been a part of their lives. Turns out James Avery founded his business 60 years ago in Kerrville, Texas, Mima’s hometown where Ellen spent many a memorable summer. The company designs 120-150 different products a year in a simple and often spiritual style and to this day handcrafts them in Texas.
Ellen treasures this original James Avery Peacock pin that Mima passed on to her.
James Avery reissued its 1982 peacock design in celebration of its 60th anniversary.
No wonder Ellen has always had such an affinity for this simply elegant, family-owned brand, and now Dillards will not only sell but also solder on James Avery charms.
When I think of charm bracelets, Ellen’s always immediately pops into my mind. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years ago, KK immediately went into action organizing a Links of Love charm bracelet for Ellen. In those days before Facebook was ubiquitous, KK did some serious sleuthing and managed to contact friends and loved ones from throughout Ellen’s life. KK assigned each a different week in which to send to Ellen a charm that reminded the giver of her friendship with Ellen or a special time in their shared lives.
Many of the treasured charms now hanging on Ellen’s wrist came from James Avery. She wears this voluptuous bracelet whenever she gathers with her posse. Just putting it on brings joy and rarely goes unnoticed when she is out and about.
A full charm bracelet transcends fashion. In uniquely reflecting its wearer, it never goes in or out of style.
In this month of Thinking Pink, we are Tickled Pink that, with its new partnership with Dillards, James Avery is making it easier than ever to honor breast cancer survivors and the other wonderful women and girls in our lives with meaningful charms and pendants that celebrate life and love.
From the late Labor Day to the UCI Road Worlds’ cyclists racing through the streets of RVA, September 2015 has to be the fastest ever on record. Don’t count on things to slow down as we traverse the marathon that runs now through New Year’s Eve. October is chock full of fun events that you’ll want to check out. These are a few of our favorites:
The Virginia State Fair started Friday, predictably delivering us from the recent dry spell (it always rains during the State Fair). Despite the weather, Alison humored me by making a field trip to the Fair. Ever since I was a teenager,
I’ve been a fan of state fairs. Every state has its thing. Minnesota’s fair is famous for the
butter sculpture contest to celebrate its dairy industry.
Alison and I have attended the fair several times when our families were younger. You know how that goes: eating fried food
and stomaching endless rides
on the Midway. This time we wanted to visit the new location of the fair at The Meadow Event Park and experience the event through the eyes of The Gracious Posse’s mission, celebrating inspired living with practical style.
Location, Location, Location
A few years back the State Fair of Virginia relocated from the Richmond International Raceway complex in Henrico County to Meadow Farm, best known as the birthplace of Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973, in Caroline County north of RVA. At the time I thought the fair was going to a distant locale, and I’d never make the time to get to it again. How wrong I was. It’s a 25-minute ride up I-95 from my home in the city and has plenty of navigational signs to the entrance.
In addition, its rural farm setting provided ample, organized parking, and plenty of grassy areas and trees, a far cry from the asphalt jungle of RIR.
Something for Everyone
The State Fair of Virginia’s mission
is to increase agricultural and natural resource awareness, interest and education in Virginia through programs, exhibitions and competitions integral to the operation of the State Fair of Virginia.
And all those years ago I thought the fair was about eating, riding the rides and boy-watching!
Arts and Crafts
Alison and I headed straight for the Arts and Crafts Exhibition to check out the baking and crafting winners.
A youth competition called Literary Table Setting, where a book is interpreted into a tablescape and the main character is invited to lunch, wowed us. The winner was Moby Dick with
Call Me Ishmael as a place card! Truly an inventive and festive tablescape and an interesting thought for future book club meetings.
In the baking division a cold oven almond pound cake won the big prize. The winning baked goods are displayed a bit unceremoniously in a case, no doubt to protect them from the hungry masses! Now I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to get our hands on the winning recipe.
The Horticulture Pavilion provided ample eye candy vegetables.
first place gourds
biggest pumpkin and watermelon contest winners (that blue-ribbon white pumpkin weighs over 1,300 pounds – a new state record!)
Roosters, Rabbits and Cows Oh My
My favorite attractions at the fair are the animals. Alison indulged me as I teared up at the newborn bull, Torque,
a mere 8 hours old when I took his picture. We moved through the Livestock Pavilion, stopping to admire
these Kunekune pigs and Rosie,
a displaced-looking Texas Longhorn. Then it was on to the poultry and rabbits.
As I said, the State Fair of Virginia has something for everyone, like Pig Racing for the swine-inclined. Rosaire’s Royal Racers is a must-see for all ages. Sit under the big tent for 30 minutes, rest your little piggies and watch three types of pigs round the track. Ok, maybe pig racing isn’t all that gracious, but it sure was entertaining!
An unexpected surprise at the fair was the lush plantings of all sorts around the grounds. From gorgeous planters
the rural setting and Meadow Farm homestead
provided a photo-op at every turn. As we left Alison and I raved at what a lovely location the new Meadow Park setting was for our 146-year-old fair.
Our visit inspired Alison to make a batch of lFy‘s 1994 State Fair Winning Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
Virginia State Fair Winning Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
In a small bowl, combine eggs, raisins and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 1 at least one hour up to overnight.
When you are ready to begin, preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease baking sheets. Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
Remove raisin mixture from fridge and stir in almond extract. Add to flour/butter mixture until well-combined.
Add oatmeal and mix thoroughly. Dough will be stiff.
Drop by rounded double tablespoons (I used a 1/8 cup cookie scoop) onto cookie sheets leaving room for cookies to spread. Bake for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool baked cookies on wire racks. Cookies harden as they cool.
Approximately 3 dozen.
Winner of the 1994 Cookie Contest at the State Fair of Virginia.
By Leigh Farmer
Adapted from Mr. Georgi's Famous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from a bakery in Lynchburg, Virginia
Adapted from Mr. Georgi's Famous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from a bakery in Lynchburg, Virginia
The Gracious Posse http://thegraciousposse.com/
We are proud to share it with you, with lFy‘s blessing.
The UCI World Championships first hit our radar over a year ago, but hardly anyone in RVA understood what it would mean. With estimates of 450,000 visitors and significant road closures, businesses, schools and individuals have made a variety of preparations. Virginia Commonwealth University choose to cancel classes for the week, businesses provided flexible start hours for employees and some individuals have even tried renting their homes to out-of-town cycling enthusiasts.
We’ve been curious to see just how our creative retail community would welcome the cycling world to our fair city. Some businesses opted to participate in Style Weekly’s Windows to the World contest as a way to give a shout-out to the visitors.
Many more are using the cycling theme as a way to entice purchasers of all things bike-related. Take a look of some of the displays and merchandise we’ve found.
Grove & Libbie Avenues
Roanoke artist Peggy Larmore at Fraiche
ram head created from bicycle parts at Palette
Peter Blair window
and their bike tie (also available in a bow tie)
Urban Interiors window
Franklin Goose window
Carytown’s new outpost of Crème de la Crème with all sorts
of biking goodies
Janet Brown Interiors biking the worldand keeping us in balanceRuth & Ollie’s windowMerrymaker’sMongrel’s bike-related windowan appropriate call to shop at Sheppard Street Antiqueslocal purveyor Orange shares its biking and RVA goods
filled with loads of local finds, Viva La Local greets visitors along the race course in the 300 block of West Broad Street
What would a world-class event be without the souvenir t-shirt? Here are a few clever ones that caught our eye.
Agee’s Bicycles in Carytown
Virginia Diner Shoppe in Carytown
lots of choices at
the T-Shirt Studio in Carytownthe cycling world’s rainbow at FanFest
USA’s I love racing t-shirt at FanFest
Clever Cycling Souvenirs
FanFest at the Richmond Convention Center (ground zero for the races) is chocked full of clever cycling souvenirs. What will the marketers think of next?
local Dip a Di Do Dah bowls
Our favorite souvenirs of the World Championships, though, have to be the watercolors being created at FanFest by old friend, Greig Leach, as he watches the races live on computer.
He’s combined his long-time love of cycling with his artistic talent and now ranks as the premier cycling artist in the world. Wouldn’t one or more of these prints (he’s got loads more) make a great remembrance of this singular time in RVA?
Between watching the races and shopping, looks like we’ll be busy through the weekend. Go Team USA and #Richmond2015!