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Welcome, September 2015!

Bike painting by Vicky Foster available at Frame of Mind

Happy Unofficial New Year! September is always crazy, but in our beloved RVA, this September will be insanity. With the World Championships of road bike racing coming to town, we will be in Spin City. The UCI’s haven’t been in the States for almost 30 years, so no one knows for sure what to expect – except craziness. We hope to share some of it here and on Instagram. Of course, September is always crammed with great events even without the world coming to town, so strap on your bike helmets and let’s go!


bees on bikes at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
explore the art of the bicycle interactively
opening reception
Sunday, September 6th, noon – 4 p.m.

New York Fashion Week

Anna Wintour

Thursday, September 10th – Thursday, September 17th
Posse member aLe will be taking it all in, and we’re hoping to find room in her suitcase. If not, we hope she will share some of the excitement with the rest of the posse.
official schedule here

Fall Plant Sale

Lewis Ginter Fall Plant Sale

Lewis Ginter (née Lakeside Wheel Club) Botanical Garden
Friday, September 11th 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, September 12th 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

ARTrageous 2015!

VMFA Artrageous Poster

Saturday, September 12th 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Robins Sculpture Garden
dancing, creative cocktails, and delectable bites
$150 per person
proceeds support ARTshare, a major digital initiative to make VMFA’s collections and educational resources available to audiences throughout Virginia and the world

Massey on the River

Massey on the River invitation via VCU Massey Cancer Center

benefits VCU Massey Cancer Center
Saturday, September 12th 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Mayo Island
craft beer, wine, auction, music, BBQ
$50 per person
click here for more details

The Amazing Raise

The Amazing Raise 2015 logo via Amazing Raise

Wednesday, September 16th 6 a.m. to 
Thursday, September 17th 6 p.m.
support Central Richmond non-profits of your choice
help set a record $2 million
$25 minimum online gift
hosted by The Community Foundation
read more here

UCI Road World Championships

2015 UCI Road World Championships

Saturday, September 19th – Sunday, September 27th
full schedule here

cabi 2015 Fall Show

Fall 2015 cabi collection 

Preview Night — Tuesday, September 22nd, 7-9 p.m.
All-day Shopping — Wednesday, September 23rd, 10-6 p.m. and by appointment
at Ellen’s

more details to follow

State Fair of Virginia


State Fair of Virginia bus via State Fair of Virginia

September 25 through October 4
at the Meadow
competitions, education and FUN!

 We’re ready! Are you?

salutationa&eSeptember 1, 2015

Getting Creative with Brushstroke Anywhere You Have an Internet Connection

Around these parts, the third week of August sees the return of vacationing families from sunny shores or cool green mountains. Though most schools won’t begin until the Tuesday after Labor Day, children’s attendance mandates this homecoming and marks the unofficial end of summer. Whether the new routine will be welcomed or not, lives will revolve around preseason fall sports camps until classes begin.

I recall hours spent on the sidelines of a practice field as my son and his fellow Western Wildcats went through their football drills. As he grew older, I didn’t feel compelled to hang around at practice, but in the early years I wanted to remain close by in case of injury. A few of my fellow moms became my football posse as we sat through hours of practices swapping recipes for make-ahead dinners and secrets for getting grass stains out of our players’ practice pants.

Brushstroke from the sidelines © The Gracious Posse

More often, though, wannabe coaches took their sons to practice, and I’d be the lone mom in my camp chair. In the days before tablets and laptops, I’d always bring books and magazines to keep me company. How much more productive I would have been with today’s technology and creative apps.

If the the magic of iCloud had existed then, I could have organized all of my pictures as Lisa Burlee showed us here. In the process, I might have found a picture to use for Christmas cards and then actually ordered online, all from the comfort of my portable throne. Even better, I could have gotten creative with some of those pictures using Waterlogue or my latest favorite app, Brushstroke. While Waterlogue’s creations live better within technology, Brushstroke results can be printed on canvas or paper for home decor and meaningful gifts.

When Ellen saw one of my favorite Brushstroke creations,

Palmer on canvas © The Gracious Posse

a picture of our Westie that I gave to our daughter for graduation and is now gracing her bachlorette pad, she couldn’t believe that it came from an app. Brushstroke gives you so many options for turning your photo into a piece of art. As a wannabe artist of limited skill, transforming this photo

original Palmer with seaweed © The Gracious Posse

into the canvas above brings almost immediate gratification.

Recently I’ve been playing with this sunrise shot

early August sunrise over the Rappahannock River © The Gracious Posse

that I took at dNz‘s river house a few weeks ago. I can make it look like a classic landscape,

early August sunrise over the Rappahannock River in oil on rough canvas © The Gracious Posse

give it a more abstract or minimalist look,

early August sunrise over the Rappahannock River more abstract © The Gracious Posse

go bright and colorful like her guest house

early August sunrise over the Rappahannock River in Jean setting © The Gracious Posse

or embrace Van Gogh.

Van Gogh-ish early August sunrise over the Rappahannock River © The Gracious Posse

Once I decide on the final look, Brushstroke lets me choose a size and framing style then order it straight from the app. The prices are reasonable, as is the turn-around time.

Brushstroke generally works best for landscape or other photos without faces. I do love the idea of a backshot of children walking into the ocean, though. This shot

Brushstrokes family photo

from Shine Your Light was my first introduction to the Brushstroke app (thanks, Lisa Scibilia), and I’ve been meaning to comb through old photos to look for a similar picture from vacations of the past.

Brushstroke app

Knowing the Brushstroke app exists may influence the pictures you choose to take on your next getaway. Then when you find yourself with forced time on your hands (whether on the sidelines or waiting for your tires to be changed like I am doing as I draft this post), you’ll have a subject for passing your time creatively with Brushstroke. You may even get a Christmas present made. Don’t you just love technology that delivers delight from any spot with an internet connection?


August 18, 2015

In the Right Frame of Mind

Lucky the gal who can make a full-time career out of a hobby. That’s what Inge Labuschagne has done for herself. Taking a leap of faith in 2009 during the Great Recession,

Frame of Mind exterior © The Gracious Posse

Inge opened Frame of Mind, a specialty framing service in the west end of Richmond. She could have easily taken the less-risky route and maintained her job running the frame shop at Crossroads Art Center. Thank goodness she didn’t. Inge and her two full-time employees have made a name for themselves by combining artistic eye, customized service (at very competitive pricing) and a small art gallery to exceed customers’ expectations.

Artistic Eye

Many a time I have walked into Frame of Mind with a piece to frame and no idea what to do with it. Inge, with the patience of Job and a twinkle in her eye, will pull down a few suggestions for moldings. Inevitably, after cycling through a number of possibilities, I circle back to the first sample she selected. She just knows what works.

Recently I brought Inge a rather large challenge. My husband and I had removed a triptych from our river house that the previous owner had commissioned for a walled partition.

Triptych wall © The Gracious Posse(two of the three panels of the walled partition shown)

When we remodeled, we stored the art in the garage where it collected cobwebs for a few years. LDB was rather fond of the panels and wondered if we could preserve and use a portion in some way. I knew just who would be up to the challenge.

Inge did her research to find a lightweight yet sturdy wooden backing on which to mount the canvases, then carefully trimmed and glued them to the board. The easy part was assembling the frame, which of course did take me a bit of decision-making time. The result was worth the effort. 

Triptych of Towles Point © The Gracious Posse

Now an otherwise lonely wall displays our rescued canvases.

Another cherished piece requiring the just-so treatment was this hydrangea by Blackwell Botanicals.

Botanical Hydrangea Collage © The Gracious Possenote the custom calligraphy by Ginny Rogan in the top right corner

I planned this treasure to be a standalone piece, so its frame needed a bit of gravitas while not overwhelming the hydrangea. As usual, Inge applied her exacting taste to my unique project.

Custom Service

Inge wants to get the job done right. She and her assistant Miranda Crawford

Inge and MirandaInge (left) and Miranda confer with each other

work magic on wooden frames, like the restoration of the intricate ones below.

Frame - before restoration via Frame of Mind

Restored Frame Collage via Frame of Mind

Miranda specializes in applying wood filler, finishes, stains and paint to old and new moldings to restore or customize them to achieve the just-right look.

Once I asked them to frame a mirror using rustic white-washed molding, only the color was a bit off for the bathroom where it was to be hung. Miranda easily adjusted the color, retaining the rough-hewn look, with only a modest charge to apply the new color. With the aforementioned hydrangea, I knew I was pushing Inge to finish on a firm deadline, but she delivered. Or rather Miranda did, to my front door on a Friday evening just before I was hosting a party on Saturday. I am forever grateful.

The Gallery

Inge has forged relationships with some of our favorite local artists Sunny Goode, Chris Shands, Mehmet Sahin Altug, Ruth Reilly, Vicky Foster, Kim Nix and Catherine Bosh, and Frame of Mind has many of their works for sale.

Gallery at Frame of Mind © The Gracious Posse

Often while I am in the shop, I’m also checking out the latest on display. Inge’s smart like that, promoting local artists and creating demand for her framing services.

She’s Very Richmond

Although born in South Africa, Inge has managed to become quite the Very Richmond gal since moving to RVA in 1999, a move made so her husband could take a technical job implementing the Y2K (remember that?) conversion for a client. Inge models the qualities we would all love to have in friends, neighbors and employers. She puts a premium on employees and local businesses.

For example, Inge employs two full-time workers because she feels the full-time status gives them security and a sense of well-being. In return she retains two satisfied and loyal employees. She uses only American-made mats. As well, she only buys moldings from Virginia businesses. Once upon a time one of the Big Boys in the industry did her wrong, and she vowed that she would use only Virginia providers from that point forward. She hasn’t looked back. Go Inge!

The word is out on Frame of Mind. Don’t even think about dropping off any work during the week preceding Garden Week because they are crazy busy helping homeowners and designers (Dana Gibson, Sarah Wiley, Jennifer Stoner, Molly Carey, Pye Interiors of Charlottesville to name a few) finish the staging of the homes on tour. 

And the Winner Is…

But enough about what I think. Richmond recently voted Frame of Mind as the Readers’ Favorite.

R-Home Collage

With all the competition in RVA for framing, that is quite a distinction. It’s no surprise, though, because Inge Labuschagne and her team have the right frame of mind to deliver the skill and service expected by our discerning community. 


August 13, 2015

Ginny Rogan, Calligrapher Extraordinaire

Have ever been fortunate to receive an elegant envelope like this in your mailbox?Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

If so, you no doubt opened it with great anticipation, wondering which soiré was requesting the pleasure of your company. In this case it was a wedding with nuptials to be exchanged at Westover Plantation between bJm’s son and his lovely fiancé, cCl.

As bJm began plan the wedding events with cCl and her family, she asked me to recommend a calligrapher. Without hesitation I said, Ginny Rogan. Don’t look any further. For years I had worked with Ginny at the stationery store I once co-owned, admiring her skill, style and professionalism.

Our shop was thrilled to design and produce the highly customized invitation for one of RVA’s premier fundraisers, the Children’s Hospital Ball, when Alison co-chaired it in 2008.

Children's Hospital Ball invitation by Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

To achieve the Silk Road look, we asked Ginny to draw the invitation and the envelope text. She put us in touch with an artist to create the colorful border. Ginny’s skill allowed her to adapt her script to produce the elaborate Silk Road font. 

When my girls graduated from high school, we turned to Ginny to create monogrammed ornaments as a memento from their Senior Banquet. The ornaments doubled as place cards for each girl at her family’s table. The tradition continues at St. Catherine’s School to this day.

monogrammed ornament by Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

Possibilities are Endless

Ginny’s bread and butter is addressing envelopes in beautiful calligraphy. When she came to my home last week I was giddy at the prospect of seeing all of her fabulous samples.

Calligraphy envelopes by Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

As real works of art, I was impressed with the various layouts, fonts, ink colors and embellishments she uses to create one-of-a-kind envelopes. If I received one of these, it would never land in the recycling bin.

What I did not know was that in the intervening years since I had last worked with Ginny, she has expanded her business to include other elements demanded by an elegant event. Like our Silk Road invitation, she has produced numerous wedding invitations and other pieces of the stationery suite, from menus and escort cardsMenu and invitations by Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

to guest signature boards. It’s the modern-day take on the guest book

Ginny Rogan © The Gracious Posse

that she personalizes with her pen-and-ink rendering of the venue. After the event the board can be framed as a keepsake for the bridal couple. I love the thought of preserving the moment, especially in the form of signatures, kind of like displaying the Declaration of Independence (a declaration of non-independence if you will.)

She’s a Rock Star

Ginny has connected with numerous event planners who have stretched her application of lettering on to almost anything with a smooth surface. One of her most unusual jobs was for a rustic yet elegant wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Lynn Easton of Easton Events left no stone unturned to create the charming vibe and used river rocks, personalized by Ginny, as place cards at the table. Larger rocks displayed the table numbers.

Calligraphy by Ginny Rogan on river rock via Easton Events

At another Easton event, Ginny wrote the guests’ names at the place setting on mirrors running the length of the table.

Calligraphy menu by Ginny Rogan via Easton Events

The glass and mirror effect was complete with Ginny’s menu card printed on clear velum. The whole glamorous look takes my breath away.

The Crowning Touch

Ginny had the distinct pleasure to be asked by Virginia Governor Kaine’s administration to create the invitation to the reception for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Commonwealth in 2007 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

Calligraphy invitation to Queen's reception via Ginny Rogan

Working with the Executive Mansions’s event planner, Ginny revised the text and layout several times to get the wording and etiquette just so and fit for the Queen. Notice the personalization of the guests’ names in the middle of the text. This old world etiquette was accomplished by modern-day method: the line for the name(s) was left blank when the invitation went to print. After printing, Ginny came behind and added each guest’s name in the same font that she used to create the invitation. Holy monarchy what clever artistry!

As Alison and I caught up with Ginny, she reflected on how she unintentionally began her business after college when she offered to help her posse address their wedding invitations. This delightful self-taught artist is now in such demand that her husband switched his career to help her run Ginny Rogan Calligraphy. While technology has had such an adverse impact on the average American’s handwriting skills, Ginny is keeping the art and skill of calligraphy alive and ready when a life event or royal soiré demands only the most beautiful stationery.


August 11, 2015

10 Tips for Traveling with your iPhone

Unless you are planning to go off the grid on your next trip, your iPhone is an indispensable travel tool. I count on mine to do so many things when I travel, but this summer I found my battery draining so fast that I didn’t have enough juice to make it through the day. You know how I hate to miss the perfect photo op, so I made some necessary changes. My travels have transformed me from a reckless user of data and battery life to a good conservationist thanks to tips I learned from my children, husband and posse, as well as the school-of-hard-knocks. Perhaps some of these tips will help you get the most out of your iPhone on your next trip. 

1. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible. It’s like free long distance for voice and data. Apps like Viber

Viber icon via Apple App Store

allow you to place international voice calls over Wi-Fi at no charge. Before making reservations, make sure your hotel offers free Wi-Fi.

2. Before you leave, get a data plan for international travel when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi. If not, every sent or received text, Instagram post, Facebook check, tweet or email will COST you. The Verizon plan I used for my trip to Wimbledon was $25/month, but upon my return I cancelled it, and Verizon prorated the cost for 8 days. 

3. Use airplane mode.

Airplane Mode Setting © The Gracious Posse

When venturing out, prevent incoming texts, emails and notifications that will chew up your data plan. Upon returning to Wi-Fi-land, turn off airplane mode to read what you missed while out and about.

4. Purchase an electrical adapter and converter with a USB port.

Smooth Trip International Plug Adapters with Electric Converter and USB Charger 

Newer models like this nifty gadget I purchased for my trip to Wimbledon are lighter in weight and designed to charge your new electronica.

5. Turn off Location Services in the apps you use, as well as the apps themselves.

Settings Screen for The Weather App via Apple App Store

The Locations Services were the number one drain on my battery because unbeknownst to me I had several apps following me. You know an app is using Location Services if the paper airplane icon appears next to the battery icon on your home page. Go into each app under the Settings app to turn the location off if it is on.

Home Screen Location Setting On © The Gracious Posse

Since returning home, I’ve also learned to turn off apps on my phone after I use them instead of allowing them to use precious data and drain the iPhone battery for 6 hours after opening. To find the open apps, double-click your home button, and they will appear in a sideways scroll.

open apps screen © The Gracious Posse


Slide the app picture up to delete it, and new open apps will appear. Keep deleting until the page is cleared out. Don’t worry, your apps will still open on demand.

6. Carry extra juice. Because you won’t want to turn off every location service all the time

Travel screen © The Gracious Posse

(think Uber and OpenTable), there are loads of extra iPhone battery backups that are worth your investment and take up very little space. Carry two with you on your trip so you can charge one in your hotel room while the other travels with you throughout the day.

7. Don’t get too reliant on Google Maps. It will drain your battery dry faster than you can say Mind the Gap. Carry a back-up paper map.

8. Carry copies of your itinerary, boarding passes, passport and other travel documents if you tend to keep them on your phone. Write down key phone numbers if you don’t have them memorized. Stash copies in your suitcase as back-up should your phone die at an inopportune moment. I cannot emphasize this one enough.

9. Have members of your travel group download the Find My iPhone app before departure.

 Find My iPhone via Apple App Store

Should you or someone else lose their phone, this app will help locate the device. Invaluable.

10. Take photos of your luggage with your phone. If it gets lost, often times a photo shown to the baggage claim office will help speed up recovery of the lost bag (real life story).

This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it gets your trip off to a great start. No doubt you intrepid travelers out there have other tips to improve our productive yet complex life with the iPhone. Do share.


August 6, 2015