Serendipity and the Peacock

Today Christians around the world observe Good Friday. 

Crosses at First Baptist Church, The Plains via The Gracious PosseFirst Baptist Church, The Plains, Virginia

Alison and I send our best wishes to our readers for a joyful and meaningful holiday weekend. 

Cross at Sharon Baptist Church via The Gracious PosseSharon Baptist Church, Weems, Virginia

crosses at Villanova via The Gracious PosseVillanova University

Little did we know our recent Take My Breath Away post featuring spectacular peacocks would prompt alert posse pal lDd to inform us that ancient Christians used the peacock as a symbol of eternal life. 

This came from an ancient legend that the flesh of the peacock did not decay. It is also associated with the resurrection of Christ because it sheds it old feathers every year and grows, newer, brighter ones each year. If the peacock is portrayed drinking from a vase, it symbolizes a christian drinking the waters of eternal life. In addition, the “multitude of eyes” upon its stunningly beautiful fan tail suggested the all seeing eye of God.

–from Jesus Walk Bible Study Series

Peacock Tail via The Gracious Posse

How very serendipitous that we featured the peacocks during Lent! This new information reinforces our gratitude to our readers. Please continue to share your collective thoughts, images, wisdom, humor and talent in the celebration of inspired living with practical style.

Cross at Middleburg Methodist Church via The Gracious Posse

Happy Easter!


April 18, 2014

Memphis/Milano ~ A Garden Club of America Flower Show

Beneath the surface, garden clubs are complex organizations rooted in several traditional programs. When I joined mine a few years ago, I expected speakers and hands-on demonstrations, outreach and legislative initiatives, and fundraising through garden tours (the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week being among the largest in the country). Flower shows seemed another take on the garden tour. Design something beautiful along a basic theme like Modern Art, the theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, and submit.

My simplistic assumptions once again prove wrong. Turns out flower shows are an island unto themselves with their own language and detailed rules for displaying and judging. Though I have just begun to scratch the surface of this foreign land, I can still enjoy and appreciate the entries that talented and savvy ladies create for flower shows across the country.

Take a look at these submissions for Memphis/Milano, a Garden Club of America flower show hosted recently by the Memphis Garden Club. The theme referred to an obscure international furniture movement in the 1980s reacting against modernism. Intrepid special correspondent, aMl, covered the show for The Gracious Posse and sent back these iPhone pictures of unique floral interpretations that will leave you amazed by the ingenuity of the floral designers.

Interpretation of Italian sideboard at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by 

Beverly sideboard, 1981 at Memphis/Milano

Beverly sideboard, 1981
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Wood covered with plastic laminate and natural briar

Interpretation of Kristall bedside table at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Kristall bedside table, 1981 at Memphis/MilanoKristall bedside table, 1981
Michele De Lucchi (Italian, b. 1952)
Plastic laminate, lacquered wood and metal


Interpretation of “Bay” table lamp at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

“Bay” table lamp, 1983 at Memphis/Milano“Bay” table lamp, 1983
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Table lamp in glass, aluminum and plexiglass


Interpretation of Gritti bookcase Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Gritti bookcase, 1981 at Memphis/Milano
Gritti bookcase, 1981
Andrea Branzi (Italian, b. 1938)
Bookcase in plastic laminate, wood, metal and glass

 Interpretation of Sottsass’s Casablanca bookcase at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Sottsass’s Casablanca bookcase at Memphis MilanoCasablanca bookcase, 1981
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Plastic laminate with internal shelves


Fibonacci-influenced designs also made an appearance at the Memphis show.

Fibonacci tulips at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

Fibonacci wreath at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

Fibonacci vases at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

In addition, flower shows include horticultural judging for best specimen in a category. Hellebores

Helleboros horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

and daffodils

Daffodil in horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

are now appearing in RVA gardens, as well. Thank goodness spring and its flowering branches

Flowering branches in horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

have finally arrived.

salutationa&eApril 17, 2014

Time to Get Hanging in The Garden

Historic Garden Week 2014 tour book via The Gracious Posse

The Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week gets underway in 10 days, a bit later than usual thanks to Easter’s late date this year. The schedule, though, suits the weather as the blossoms all seem to be running at least a week behind. If the delays leave you longing for a garden fix, the Hanging in the Garden art show at Brazier Gallery may be just what you need.

Hanging in the Garden ad via The Gracious Posse

The exhibit includes garden-related paintings inspired by the homes and gardens on this year’s Richmond tours and historic garden sites restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. The works have been created by Hang Five, a group of the following five local artists who are donating a portion of the proceeds from this show to the Garden Club of Virginia’s restoration projects:

Loryn Brazier

Loryn Brazier’s “Candy Stippers” camellias at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s peonies at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s “Hello Spring” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s "Budding Beauty” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s “Finding the Sun” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant

Beth Marchant’s “A Pair of Peonies” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant’s “Morning on Westover” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant’s “Westover Light” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Nancy Mauck

Nancy Mauck’s “Pink Hydrangea” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

David Tanner

David Tanner’s “Spring in Byrd Park” at Hanging in the Garden


Tom Wise.

Tom Wise’s “Flowers” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Tom Wise’s roses at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

So much lovelier in person than what my unworthy photos convey, you’ve just got to visit to fully appreciate the work of this talented group. The show runs through April 30th, but the paintings are flying off the walls so do try to stop in sooner rather than later. The show will put you in a Spring-y frame of mind.

salutationa&eApril 16, 2014

The Generosity of Our Artists in Residence

With gratitude I salute three of our Artists in Residence today. All three cheerfully donated a work of art to Make the Magic, a fundraiser my daughter mBf spearheaded last weekend for Camp Kesem (UNC/Duke). The camp serves children who are affected by a parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem (Kesem means magic in Hebrew) was founded in 2000 by a Stanford student and has grown to 62 college campuses. Campers attend free of charge, so fundraising is critical. Seeing UNC and Duke students working in happy collaboration together alone was worth the price of admission!

Make the Magic, North Carolina style, was held at the Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh. 

Big Boss Logo via The Gracious Posse

Big Boss Brewing hosts Make the Magic via The Gracious Posse

The guests dined on barbecue (what else?), Big Boss craft brews and homemade cake pops while touring the brewery

LDB with Brew Kettle via The Gracious Posse

 and listening to testimonials from campers, parents and volunteers. A banner created by the campers

Camp Kesem Banner via The Gracious Posse

made me weak in the knees. 

 The event included a silent auction, raffle and Heads or Tails game. mBf secured these enticing works from 

Sunny Goode's Abstract via The Gracious PosseSunny Goode

Becky Jessee's cows via The Gracious PosseBecky Jessee


Meredith Kittrell's Sound Side via The Gracious PosseMeredith Kittrell

for the silent auction, and I raised a cup o’ Big Boss that night to our artist friends. I was proud to tell my fellow bidders all about them and how appreciative I was of their participation. Their generosity will impact the lives of the Kesem campers and the college students learning the hard work of fundraising. Many thanks to Sunny, Becky and Meredith for helping to Make the Magic.

salutatione&aApril 15, 2014

ASK Fun Walk and 5k – Join Team Gracious Posse!

Childhood cancer is an equal opportunity offender. It strikes without regard to income, race, socio-economic status or convenience. Believe me, there is nothing scarier than having a precious child diagnosed with that dread disease. My family knows firsthand as our dear mBf was diagnosed with leukemia, a journey which I described in Winning the Lottery

ASK banner

We were fortunate to have support of loving family, friends and neighbors, but I saved mentioning one big THANK YOU to a special organization here in RVA that helped us through her years of treatment. I dedicate this post to ASK, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, whose mission is 

Making Life Better for Children with Cancer

Not only does ASK fund clinical positions (child life therapist, chaplain, psychologist and program coordinator) at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at VCU Health Systems, it seeks to meet the non-clinical needs of the sick children and their families. I have fond memories of attending the circus and the Nutcracker and its Christmas Party with our family, all courtesy of ASK’s outreach into our community. These provided a brief but welcome opportunity to focus on family fun together and forget about blood counts, clinic visits and hospital stays. Those clinic visits, the stress of which I refuse to put into words, became more bearable when upon arrival mBf would thrill to find the Ted the Art Dude (an ASK-funded position at the time) at the table with a new craft activity.

ASK relies on meaningful fundraising to meet the needs of 1000 children annually. The biggest fundraiser is the ASK Fun Walk and 5KASK Fun Walk banner

This year the walk will take place at The Diamond on the Boulevard at 9:00 a.m. The course even crosses home plate! Registration costs $30 in advance or $35 on Race Day.  LDB and I are walking for Team Gracious Posse of course. If you’d like to join us, click here to register. If you can’t make it but would like to donate, click here. Hope to see you there!

salutatione&aApril 14, 2014 

Preparing for Easter

Palm Sunday is this weekend, and even though Easter is later this year than anyone can ever recall, I still feel like it has snuck up on me. Gone are the days when my children couldn’t wait to tear open their Easter baskets. Though my children still expect a gift and a chocolate egg, no one misses our house filled with Easter decor. Unlike the posse’s resident Easter-holic, sSn, whose Egg-stravagnza

Dining room egg-stravaganza via The Gracious Possedining room egg-stravaganza

we featured here last year, my own holiday decor will be limited to a tabletop display of Herend bunnies with a few colored eggs. Thank goodness I have the flowering of the church on Easter Saturday

Easter bedecked church column via The Gracious Posse

and our annual casual Easter lunch where I can get my fill of Easter decorations and sweets.

Easter basket with white tulips via The Gracious Posse

Easter basket with flowers via The Gracious Posse

Easter bunny cake via The Gracious Posse

homemade chocolate Easter Egg topped with sugar bunny via The Gracious Posse

ice cream cone Easter carrots via The Gracious PosseCone is coated with orange melting disk. After it hardens, fill with chocolate eggs and jelly beans and wrap in tissue paper to look like a carrot.

Besides your Lenten fast, how do you prepare for the Easter holiday?

salutationa&eApril 11, 2014

Meredith Kittrell Shares Her Art at Roundabout Art Collective and Moondog Cottage

Last week we featured Meredith Kittrell’s welcoming art-filled home in our latest Artist…in Residence profile. Today we are visiting her gallery, Roundabout Art Collective, and studio at Moondog Cottage

Meredith Kittrell, Susan Dahlin and Susan Woodson are women on a mission. In Raleigh, North Carolina, they have established an artistic compound across from one of our favorite shopping destinations, Cameron Village, in the heart of the state’s capital.  They have become successful artrepreneurs not only because of their talent but also from their desire to serve and improve their community through their artistic endeavors.

Roundabout Art Collective

Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

Roundabout Art Collective is a co-op of 20 artists who create in paint, metals, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass, furniture and apparel. All share the responsibilities and show privileges of the gallery.  The co-op’s mission resonates throughout its members’ creativity and activity in the community:

To promote local art within the community as a cooperative artists’ organization. Roundabout offers one-of-a-kind local art for your home and business. We, as member artists, run a retail shop to sell and display our original work. But we also have an obligation to educate the general public on the appreciation of the arts that is so important in all of our daily lives.

works by Yuko Taylor via The Gracious Posseworks by Yuko Taylor

art by Susan Woodson via The Gracious PosseI Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Susan Woodson

Kittrell studio and gallery via The Gracious Posse07Works by featured artist of the month Susan Parrish; centerpiece entitled My Mother, Myself

Kittrell studio and gallery via The Gracious Posse05jewelry by Mary Ann Scherr

Kittrell paintings17Meredith describes an elephant mourning its calf, a scene she witnessed while in Africa recently, that was the inspiration for the painting.

In addition to the 20 member artists, the Roundabout’s Loft shows up-and-coming artists who want to display their works temporarily without the responsibility of joining the co-op.

The Loft at Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

The Loft at Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

True to its mission, the cooperative is active philanthropically, helping raise funds for the art department at Broughton High School, build homes for Habitat for Humanity and host fundraisers of all kinds in its gallery. In October of 2013, Roundabout received a Raleigh Citizens Advisory Award for its contribution to the culture of Raleigh. 

The awards are designed to acknowledge those unsung heroes who work without thought of praise to make our communities better at the grassroots level and in so doing, elevate the quality of our lives and of our city. 

– Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council 

 Moondog Cottage

Moondog Cottage via The Gracious Posse

When the quaint cottage next door to Roundabout became available a year after Roundabout’s doors opened, Meredith, Susan and Susan jumped on the opportunity to establish a painting and teaching studio within its walls. The building was well-worn at best, so these ladies rolled up their sleeves and art smocks to transform it into an inspiring place to create and learn.

Meredith Kittrell's studio via The Gracious Posse

The walls of Meredith’s Moondog studio above and below show works in process and for sale. She thrives on the freedom that her art provides to paint in a variety of subjects and styles.

Meredith Kittrell's studio via The Gracious Posse

Susan Dahlin's studio via The Gracious PosseSusan Dahlin’s work space

The studio’s popular classes, held in the classroom below, are advertised only on Facebook and fill up quickly.

Moondog Cottage classroom via The Gracious Posse

We can only imagine how much fun it would be to take a class with Meredith, 

Meredith Kittrell in her Moondog studio via The Gracious Posse

shown here in her studio at Moondog modeling her son’s hand-crafted cowboy hat.

Celebrate RAC’s 4th Anniversary and Slow Art Day

Did you know this Saturday, April 12 is Slow Art Day? According to its promoters, it is a day set aside to

help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art


Roundabout Art Collective celebrates its 4th anniversary on this day of global day of art in the slow lane. If you’re in Raleigh, stop by and toast this creative group. Don’t forget to tell Meredith that The Gracious Posse says Congratulations.

4th anniversary party invitation for Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse


salutatione&a April 10, 2014

Take My Breath Away Lavender Transferware

I am obviously suffering from a serious case of transferware-itis, but nothing could have prepared me for the euphoria I felt when I beheld this collection.

Old Britain Castles in lavender via The Gracious Posse

Even though it was set on top of some cubicles in the Replacements warehouse, I couldn’t help but gasp. I’ve had a thing for Old Britain Castles ever since my family toured Windsor Castle 10 years ago, but in lavender? Oh, my. The color is absolutely perfect, especially for my shopping companion kMg, who is a lavender girl.

Do you love this as much as we do?

salutationa&eApril 9, 2014

Meredith Kittrell’s Transferware-itis ~ the Brown Strain

Speaking of transferware-itis, we spotted a grand case of the brown strain when we visited artist Meredith Kittrell at her home recently.

Kittrell's brown transferware via The Gracious Posse9

While Ellen drooled over Meredith’s collection corralled in her butler’s pantry, Meredith explained that she steers clear of buying pattern duplicates.

Kittrell's brown transferware via The Gracious Posse2

As we described yesterday, one of the benefits of the transferware process is that manufacturers can vary the color of their products based on demand.

Kittrell's brown transferware via The Gracious Posse6don’t you love those square butter pats plates?

Each engraved plate is cleaned after being inked, so as long as an ink color is available, it can be applied to the pottery. There are many shades of brown, as Meredith’s collection shows, and I am willing to bet that with the recent blue and brown trend in interiors, brown transferware is more popular than ever.

Kittrell's brown transferware via The Gracious Posse4

Meredith’s collection just goes to show that hunting for different transferware patterns can last a lifetime. What color is your transferware-itis now?

salutationa&eApril 8, 2014

Transferware-itis: The Blue and White Strain

It’s a Blue and White Bash Today at The Pink Pagoda!

What is it about transferware that is so appealing? Lately, the posse has become a little obsessed with it. Whenever we are out rummaging through vintage and consignment stores and antiques malls, we invariably pause to examine these little works of art.

blue and white hutch at West End Antiques Mall via The Gracious Posse

The patina of antique platters has Ellen longing to begin a collection of blue and white ones to display on the shelves of her family room.

blue and white transferware platters via The Gracious Posse

Blue and white transferware is ubiquitous at these establishments because it has been flowing out of factories in Staffordshire since the early 1800s. As one of the first items mass-produced for the middle-class, potteries in this English region employed artisans to create copper engravings often copied from the etchings and drawings of others. Printers would ink the engraving and cover it with transfer paper that would then be laid on raw pottery. Once the ink set, the paper would be removed, and the piece would be glazed and fired.

antique transferware platters at the West End Antiques Mall via The Gracious Posse

This process quickly produced sturdy pieces for the newly-moneyed bourgeois in Great Britain and the United States who were eager to show off their good taste. According to the Transferware Collectors Club, since the transfer process was discovered as the English were trying to copy Chinese export porcelain, well over 10,000 patterns have been created. Spode alone developed 5,000 different ones in a 33 year period in the early 1800s, though Blue Willow (the pattern in the bottom platter above) has no doubt been its most popular blue and white seller for over 230 years.

blue and white patinaed plates via The Gracious Posse

With so many patterns and surviving examples, it is hard to decide where to start a collection. A membership in The Transferware Collectors Club is probably a good place to begin if you want to invest in quality vintage and antique pieces.  I can easily imagine how a small obsession could easily turn into a full-blown and expensive case of transferware-itis.

Fortunately, these old Staffordshire companies are still producing blue and white wares that you can be comfortable using on a daily basis. Though many have consolidated and some production has moved overseas, the quality of the engravings that were made in the 1800s remains, and the blue and white colors still look fresh. Recently I contracted a case of the blue and white strain of transferware-itis when kMg and I stopped in at Replacements outside of Greensboro, N.C. This dining table filled with a wide variety of new blue and white pieces had me at Hello.

panoramic iPhone picture of Replacements blue and white table via The Gracious Posse

Never before had I thought about mixing blue and white transferware patterns on a tabletop, but Replacements kindly provides a spot to do just that.

blue and white transfer ware table via The Gracious Posse

The table was filled with so many lovely examples of re-issued patterns. As I poked through the piles, I pulled my favorites to create this place setting (I already have cobalt glasses). The cute berry bowl on top is

transferware place setting via The Gracious PosseUnicorn stamp

by Unicorn, previously Enoch Wedgwood, a very inexpensive yet pretty piece. The mug

Highgrove transferware mug via The Gracious PosseHighgrove transferware mug stamp via The Gracious Posse

is Highgrove, a pattern by the Josiah Wedgwood Company (not to be confused with the Enoch Wedgwood group). Even trend-setting marketer Williams-Sonoma likes the pattern. The dessert plate

transferware place setting via The Gracious PosseWood & Sons transferware stamp via The Gracious Posse

says Wood & Sons on the back with no pattern name. The sweet rose transfer surrounded by a softer cobalt and navy trim may be my favorite.

The salad plate I added is

transferware salad plate via The Gracious PosseDevon Cottage by Johnson Brothers stamp via The Gracious Posse

Devon Cottage. This must be a recent restyling as it has a ©2009 date, but Devon Cottage with a white background has been in Johnson Brothers’ line for a long time. Doesn’t this mix of blues feel like chintz, which is making a comeback in the world of interiors?

Finally the dinner plate for my blended wishlist is

Moreton Old Hall transferware plate via The Gracious PosseMoreton Old Hall stamp via The Gracious Posse

Moreton Old Hall from the Josiah Wedgwood group. This Portland Vase dinner plate by Spode

Portland Vase by Spode via The Gracious Posse Portland Vase by Spode stamp via The Gracious Posse

with its wide graphic border was also a strong contender.

Granted the modern versions of these old patterns don’t have the worn luster of the original versions, but they make a practical and stylish substitute for modern living. My life demands that everyday dishes be microwave and dishwasher safe, but I want them to be pretty too. Blue and white transferware is so timeless that it feels at home in any environment, and with the varieties available, most everyone can find a favorite pattern.

blue and white tabletop at Replacements via The Gracious Posse

Have you contracted the blue and white strain of transferware-itis? It’s pretty contagious, especially at Replacements. If you’ve got a case of it, fortunately there are lots of way to feed the obsession. The Blue and White Bash at The Pink Pagoda is a great place to start.

Blue and White Bash Invitation April


April 7, 2014