Thought for the Week ~ Maya Angelou on Creativity

paraphrase of one of the most popular quotes on our Gracious Inspiration Pinterest Board,

Creativity . . . the  more you use, the more you have. ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s sage observation about increasing creativity makes for appropriate Monday morning inspiration. Much like the giving of love, instead of exhausting our creative juices, we’ll generate more as we dig deep within and exercise our artistic souls. What’s on your creative agenda this week?


October 20, 2014

Sneak a Peak at the VMFA’s New Blockbuster Exhibit ~ Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ latest blockbuster, Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing, opens to the general public this Saturday, October 18th. On Wednesday night, hundreds of the museum most ardent supporters gathered for a preview celebration. 

giant Chinese foo dog © The Gracious Posse

Despite the Chinese grandeur all around, the museum provided a local spin at the reception with local brewer Hardywood’s

Forbidden Hardywood brew © The Gracious PosseForbidden brew.

It proved the perfect welcoming beverage for this here-and-only-here exhibition that represents a coup for the VMFA. According to Sunday’s Richmond Times Dispatch article, the Palace Museum and the VMFA collaborated for seven years to create this exclusive exhibit and bring it here. In exchange, the famed Faberge eggs, part of the museum’s permanent collection, will travel to the Palace Museum to be displayed in 2016.

Let this sneak peak of Forbidden City whet your appetite and get you planning your own visit. 

Forbidden City marquee © The Gracious Posse

Forbidden City Exhibit Summary

ceremonial armor worn by Palace Guards © The Gracious Posseceremonial armor worn by Palace Guards

Forbidden City jade chimes © The Gracious Possejade chimes hanging on 11-foot-tall frames

Forbidden City throne room furniture © The Gracious Possethrone-room furniture

cushion seat at Emperor's desk © The Gracious Posseyellow cushion for emperor’s writing desk

Forbidden City wine cup and saucer © The Gracious Possewine cup and saucer made of enamel, gold and pearl

Forbidden City English gold clock © The Gracious PosseEnglish gold clock

Woman's semi-formal headdress in Forbidden City exhibit © The Gracious PosseWoman’s Headdress for less formal occasions

Forbidden City exhibit's man's Jacket © The Gracious PosseMan’s fur-lined quilted jacket

Lotus Sutra in forbidden City exhibit © The Gracious PosseLotus Sutra

Intrigued by all of these items and many more now on display, I vow to learn more about the period in which the Forbidden City reigned supreme. The VMFA produced a bibliography of books related to this exhibition, and

Empress Dowager Cixi

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China has really piqued my interest.

Empress Dowager Cixi quote

This blockbuster, which runs until January 11, 2015, may be as close as I come to seeing the Forbidden City, and I am ready to immerse myself in its uniqueness. Just touring the exhibition halls provides a humbling experience for which I am most grateful. My feelings upon leaving are best summed up as only Confucius can,

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

salutatione&aOctober 17, 2014 

The Prodigal Son’s First Return

Our son makes his first return appearance tonight since heading west in mid-August for the halcyon days of college. Giddy with the impending arrival, I have snapped out of my empty nest malaise to start fluffing it. I had wanted to join this fall’s edition of the One Room Challenge over at Calling It Home and redo his room, but he made it clear when he left that the room was to remain the same. He granted permission only to have it repainted but in the same harvest gold color that has gotten him through the last 12 years.

water hyacinth basket © The Gracious Posse

While hoping to persuade him to let me make a more drastic change, I’ve spent the last week or so finally cleaning out the detritus left in his packing for college wake and zhushing up his room. Thank goodness for Target’s large selection of trays and water hyacinth baskets that now corral all those things that didn’t make the move to the dorm room, including more electronic cords and headphones than one person could ever possibly use. After two months of living with two other guys, a clean and organized room should be just the welcome he needs as he crawls into his queen-sized bed.

Meaty Cheesy Manicotti © The Gracious Posse

Though sleep will be high on his agenda this Fall Break weekend, food will be a close second. His main request, Meaty Cheesy Manicotti, will be followed by our favorite Tiramisu in honor of this summer’s Italian Odyssey. As we sit down to share this meal, I’ll try my hand (hopefully subtly) at Speed Parenting.

Fauls Favorite Tiramisu © The Gracious Posse

Not wanting to overwhelm him with my empty nest issues, I vow to watch my tongue and just try to enjoy the time together. If the conversation gets too heavy, we can count on our Christmas puppy, Palmer, for some comic relief.

Our son dubbed the Westie his replacement, and though he won’t understand why that could never be until he sends his own children off to college, this demanding and endearing pup does fill up some of the void in our otherwise quiet nest.

Palmer lounging on the desk chair © The Gracious Posse

Palmer has become a link to our children, and he will always be a reason for them to come home. He has become my sounding board in the echoing house and ensures that I get outside regularly throughout the day. My advice to all parents facing the empty nest: be sure to have a dog before the last one heads off! The dog won’t leave you to go back to school.


October 15, 2014