Shopping Events Highlight This Week in RVA

All of a sudden back-to-school shopping ads are dominating the airwaves. While the last week of July may offer some savings for those who are on top of their game, Richmond’s has two shopping events this week that have me looking forward to the beginning of the dog days of summer. So as not to give away all of the delights in the stores, here’s just a sneak peak that should entice you to put both events on this week’s to-shop list.

Sunny Goode Pop-Up Art Show and Sale 

Frame of Mind storefront round © Frame of Mind

One of our favorite local artists, Sunny Goode, whom we profiled as an Artist in Residence last summer, is partnering with that great little frame shop, Frame of Mind, for a pop-up art show this Wednesday evening, July 30th from 5:30-8 p.m.

Sunny Goode landscape round © Sunny Goode

The show provides a great opportunity to see up close and personal Sunny’s colorful oils in range of sizes while enjoying light refreshments.

Sunny Goode trees © Sunny Goode

Sunny will be available to discuss her work and commissions, and if you haven’t yet, you can also meet the talented owner of Frame of Mind, Inge Labuschagne. She has a knack for choosing just the right frame for any piece of art you take to her and also maintains a well-curated inventory of original pieces from local artists like Sunny. Located at 4818 Grove Avenue, Inge’s shop with its front patio makes a perfect spot to get your Wednesday night art fix, but if you can’t stop by then, any of Sunny’s show pieces not sold that night will remain at Frame of Mind through August.

Southern Season Richmond Grand Opening

Southern Season Richmond store © The Gracious Posse

Southern Season Richmond finally opens this Thursday, July 31st, and you know that The Gracious Posse is all aquiver. We have featured this Chapel Hill institution here and here, and even the exterior of the Richmond edition in the new Libbie Mill development has us salivating with anticipation. Like its other two sister stores, Southern Season Richmond will embrace its locale by featuring many Virginia food products amongst its beautiful wares.

Southern Season cheese monger © Southern Season

This 52,00 square foot store includes, in addition to a myriad of specialty grocery and kitchen items, Southerly Restaurant and Patio and a 40-student cooking school and is destined to become a shopping mecca for food lovers of all types.

Southern Season bakery sign © Southern Season

The ribbon-cutting ceremony begins at 8:40 a.m., and the store will open to the public immediately thereafter. Why not be one of the first to get your feet inside the new Southern Season store?

With Christmas now less than Five Months Away, I’ll be taking my Christmas list with me to both these hot shopping spots. Will I see you there?

salutationa&eJuly 28, 2014

Only Five Months Away, the Countdown is on to Christmas Day!

No need to panic. This is just a friendly reminder that Christmas will be here before we know it. Last year, we spent a week celebrating Christmas in July. Ellen and I thought you would appreciate thoughts of cooler days ahead during the mid-summer heat, but instead we managed to raise some of the posse’s temperatures. Our goal in starting the countdown is to help reduce your stress with a few reminders for things you can do now that will make you happier come December.

Go Through Last Year’s Holiday Cards

Christmas card basket © The Gracious Posse

Every year my Christmas cards end up in a designated basket or bowl that sits out for months. To it I will add post-Christmas cards that more people are sending in lieu of the traditional end of the year greetings in order to keep their lives more sane. I also add change of address cards and return addresses from Christmas cards received from addresses not on my Christmas excel spreadsheet.

Yes, I do keep a spreadsheet that I update at least annually with new addresses. I also go through my cards to note on the spreadsheet whom we heard from in the past year. If someone hasn’t exchanged greetings with us for several years, I will usually take them out of the count for Christmas card order.

finished photo book © The Gracious Posse

The dog days of summer are the perfect time to go though the bowl, make my updates and decide how many cards to order this year. This weekend I also want to fill the red photo album that cFl gave me for Christmas last year after we profiled her Christmas photo card solutions. Ellen received one too, and naturally she has already pulled hers together.

Plan This Year’s Christmas Card Photo Shoot Session

I can’t believe I actually have a photo for this year’s edition.

2014 family photo in Portovenere © The Gracious Posseit’s not this one

Don’t hate me. Usually this time of year I start to think about when I might have a photo-op for my two children. End of the summer and beach pictures always look good in December on bright cards. If your family is like mine, the photo shoot is usually frustrating, but preparing the family in advance and negotiating the time frame can help your kids feel a little more in control over what seems to them a painful process.

Start Looking for Holiday Card Sales

collage of Buoyer family Christmas cards © The Gracious Posse

Between now and the end of September is the best time to find deals. Keep your eyes open. It definitely helps to have your picture already selected. Here’s are Ellen’s recommendation for Planning Your Christmas Cards.

Buy Vintage Christmas Now

vintage Christmas booth © The Gracious Posse

Over the next month or so, you will start seeing the Christmas items come out at local vintage and antique sales. Don’t just walk buy them while you are thrifting.

vintage ornaments on Christmas gifts © The Gracious Posse

Vintage ornaments make the perfect final touch to Christmas gifts.

Speaking of Gifts

Every year I dig out the pocket-sized notebook I used the year before to create the list of people whom we will be gifting this year. I am going in search of it this weekend so I can at least get the list in my purse for reference while I am shopping.

Plan a Family Surprise

Want to do something really special for your family for the holidays? Maybe plan a surprise getaway?

view of Honolulu from summit of Diamondhead © The Gracious PosseHow ‘bout Hawai’i?

Now is the time to begin.

Last year, I gave my family the best Christmas gift ever: a new puppy.

Palmer on Christmas gifts © The Gracious Posse

For a family with older children, he was the perfect gift, and I completely surprised my husband and kids on Christmas Eve. Unless you want to select a rescue dog, start checking out breeders on the q-t for reputation and availability come December.

So we’ve put Christmas on your mind and hopefully without the dread of the holiday frenzy. If you start doing a little planning this weekend, you may actually reduce your stress in a few months. Our aim with this reminder post has been to inspire and not cause you to perspire. Did we succeed?

salutationa&eJuly 25, 2014

Our Summer Reading List Barometer

Recently Laura Trevey of Bright Bold & Beautiful asked followers about their favorite summer memories. As I pondered the question, I kept picturing myself at various ages curled up outside under summertime shade reading a book. Whether under a tree, poolside or on the beach, I have always cherished my summer escapes into a good book.

reading on the beach © The Gracious Posse

Of course under a beach umbrella is the best place possible for reading, and as Ellen gets packing for her annual getaway to Sunset Beach, she is looking for a good book to put in her beach bag. I’ve been polling some of the posse and taking notes from other bloggers to put together this list of summer reading possibilities. Everyone always assumes that light reads a la Elin Hilderbrand and Dorothea Benton Frank are most appropriate on the beach. Sometimes, though, I prefer to do my heavier reading on the beach when a glance up at an ocean view keeps me from being dragged down too deeply into the dark mood of the book.

As Ellen checks her reading barometer for the type of book she wants to immerse herself in, here from my sources is a forecast of some she might enjoy.

Sunny and Breezy

Elin Hilderbrand will take you away to summer in Nantucket almost from the first page of each of her books. Silver Girl and Beautiful Day are two of my recent favorites. Her latest

The Matchmaker should probably be listed under Cloudy as the main character faces breast cancer, a diagnosis with which Ms. Hilderbrand was confronted shortly before this novel was published. You can read her take on life imitating fiction here.

Suggested by Carpool Goddess, Lisa Scottoline and her 20-something daughter Francesca have written a book of humorous essays about learning to stay close while living apart. It sounds perfect for Ellen and lDd who vacations with Ellen and whose oldest just graduated from college.

Our favorite book reviewer, Ashley Farley of Chronicles . . . of an Avid Reader and Indie Author, recently featured Dorothea Benton Frank’s most recent, The Hurricane Sisters. I love listening to Dot Frank’s stories on my Audible app and am looking forward to hearing her latest on one of my many upcoming road trips.

After enjoying several delightful tour guides in Italy, I have put Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide on my to-read list. Ellen included it in her Italian “Poscritto” reading list, and it sounds like a lark. Both of us must find time for it out this year.

JK Rowling is out with the second in her series about private detective Cormoran Strike written under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. My book club loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, and after reading the Richmond Times-Dispatch review on Sunday, I can’t wait to start The Silkworm in which Ms. Rowling apparently slips in some digs at the publishing industry which revealed the secret of her alter ego.

If, like us, you love vintage shopping as well as a good read, try A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff. Vintage fashion and wartime friendship is vaguely reminiscent of Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind (see below) though much lighter.


While Ellen was visiting A Gentleman’s Farm, cCo recommended The Bees by Laline Paull. Told from the perspective of a maiden bee in an ancient culture, it sounds truly original. Whether Ellen starts a colony of her own or not, this novel should capture her imagination.

bMt told me that she is rereading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. In light of Louis Zamperini’s recent passing and the movie premiere of Angelina Jolie’s version of the book later this year, this summer seems the perfect time to recall Mr. Zamperini’s remarkable life.

From the author of Loving Frank, Under the Wide and Starry Sky imagines the real-life relationship between Robert Louis Stevenson and an American mother who left her philandering husband for a new life with her children in Europe. sMm has recommended this work that is reminiscent of The Paris Wife.

Ashley of Chronicles has gotten me hooked on Australian Liane Moriarty’s books. Quirky characters dot Liane’s homeland settings that she paints so vividly. Now I’m longing to visit Australia as I await her next offering, Big Little Lies, out next week.

If you like Liane’s books, you’ll love these from Jojo Moyes. A British writer who brings unlikely characters together, her moving novels stay with the reader long after she turns the final page. Her latest, One Plus One, is on my to-read list.

Every year I like to read one classic that I have yet to attempt. In recent years, I have undertaken Atlas Shrugged and Swann’s Way. Both were worth the extensive time it took to finish them. Ashley at Chronicles recently posted Top Ten Classics I Want to Read. Catch-22 is on her list, and I’ve added it to mine, too.

Dark and Stormy

I just finished Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch and am still not sure whether it belongs under Cloudy or Dark and Stormy. The plot line takes the reader to many dark places (e.g. terrorism and drugs), but one of the central characters, Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch, provides such hope and beauty that I still can’t quite decide how to characterize this book that has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 38 weeks.

The movie version of the remarkable The Fault in Our Stars is out this summer. While I don’t know how it plays out in the big-screen interpretation, the story, though categorized as Young Adult, is for all grown-ups. The plot of this beautifully written novel revolves around two teens with cancer and has struck a chord with many.

sMm also recommended Summer House with Swimming Pool. A psychological thriller with detestable characters, readers say you can’t put it down but you’ll want to wash your hands afterwards.

I thought I was done stressing about summer reading for my children, but recently my son and his fellow incoming freshmen received this book in the mail to read in preparation for small-group discussions during orientation at the beginning of his fall term. I was curious and had to check it out. Graphic and brutal in a Faulkner-esque style, Salvage the Bones reminds the reader of As I Lay Dying as it recounts 10 days surrounding Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi Delta. At first disturbed that he was supposed to read it, by the time I finished it I was encouraging him to pick it up.

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to Shannon Geary Weisleder who has an essay published in Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions. Each of the 73 essays is thought-provoking for its female audience, and most everyone will find amongst the book’s pages one or two essays that she can’t forget.

Your Summer Reading Forecast

So what’s the forecast for your summer reading? Have you got any suggestions for Ellen to take to the beach? Just enter it and the barometric category you think it fits into the comments box below under Speak Your Mind (I’ve been trying to change that title but still can’t figure out how). I know the posse would love your suggestions.


July 23, 2014