Welcome, September

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor to all of our posse!  Hope you are resting up for the start of one of the busiest months of the year. Forget January 1, today really should be called New Year’s Day, don’t you agree?

While not intending to add to the craziness of your fall, here are a few opportunities that you might want to consider adding to your calendar.

Out of the Darkness Walk

Out of the Darkness WalkSaturday, September 13th
8 - 11 am
Deep Run Park
the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s signature fundraising campaign raises funds and awareness for its vision to create a world without suicide
register now


43rd Street Festival of the Arts 

43rd Street Festival of the ArtsSaturday, September 13th
10 am – 5 pm


CAbi Fall 2014 Show

CAbi Beautifall 2014Wednesday, September 17th ~ 7 – 9 pm
Thursday, September 18th ~ 10 am – 3 pm
Friday, September 19th ~ 10 am – 2 pm
Ellen’s House
for directions, contact us at



Savor invitationSaturday, September 20th
6 – 11 pm
The Jefferson Hotel
featuring Chef Maneet Chauhan
benefitting Hospital Hospitality House


Arts Around the Lake

Tents at Arts Around the Lake

 Sunday, September 21st
11 am – 5 pm
University of Richmond
35th annual juried fine arts show featuring over 75 artists of various mediums on the shore of Westhampton Lake


Community Idea Stations’ 50th Anniversary Gala

Community Idea Station Gala invitationSaturday, September 27th
7 – 11 pm
Community Idea Stations Studios
special guest host Judy Woodruff leads an evening of music, dancing and public broadcasting experiences in celebration of 50 years of using the power of media to educate, entertain and inspire


With so much on the horizon, we wish you a Happy New Year!

salutationa&eSeptember 1, 2014


pink sand beach in Bermuda

Can you believe that Porch Season is coming to an end? How did you spend yours? In between your vacation, irregular summer schedule and transporting children hither and yon, we hope you managed to visit The Gracious Posse every now and again. In case you missed a few, here’s a summer-y of the highlights for your perusal this Labor Day weekend.

Sunshine and Blue Skies

Blessed with unusually temperate weather here in RVA, we were able to enjoy the great outdoors to its fullest.

A few of us donated a progressive dinner (Midsummer’s Night Progressive Dinner ~ Rivah Style) on the Rappahannock River to the Anything Goes Gala. Luckily a cartel of friends won the bidding, and we couldn’t have predicted 

Progressive Dinner on the Rappahannock River © The Gracious Posse

how perfect the evening turned out to be.

I  climbed on a bike for the first time in several years to join the Biking Belles

Biking Belles shirts © The Gracious Posse

on a late sunny afternoon to bike the Capital Trail. I encourage all to experience the bucolic trail ride that runs beside Route 5, the cradle of American history.

Jim Carleton welcomed us to his gentleman’s farm in June. 

raised bed with lavender © The Gracious Posse

His unending gardening quest could have him living off the land and sea in no time.

Summer Images

We were impressed by the effort and style many put into the yards, gardens and even boat docks we discovered this summer. We hope you will find in Dockscaping, Crape-ScapingGarden Gates and Rappahannock River Riches some Pinterest-worthy summer images.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

The Posse was on the go.

Alison and her family kicked their summer off with a 10-day Italian adventure.

Manarola, Italy © The Gracious Posse

If you’re thinking about taking your family, read Alison’s Ten Day Italian Itinerary for a Family with Young Adults and Top Ten Tips for Touring with Family in Italy for helpful and essential information.

LDB  and I visited family in Bermuda. 

Moongate at the Princess © The Gracious Posse

Read Living in Paradise Bermuda-Style to find out what it’s like to live there: the good, the bad and the gracious.

Speaking of Bermuda,

An Evening in Bermuda was the theme for the 58th annual Bal du Bois. The Junior Board of Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital transformed the Country Club of Virginia 

Bermudian architecture at the Bal du Bois © The Gracious Posse

into a picturesque Bermuda setting to celebrate the 2014 sponsors.

Back Home on the (cooking) Range

Our summer adventures led to related culinary pursuits. The Progressive Dinner’s dessert was Key Lime Parfait, which inspired me to share 

Shrimp and Melon Parfaits © The Gracious Posse

Parfaits Two Ways: Savory and Sweet.

Alison’s Italian adventure prompted her to find the ultimate tiramisu with a fun family

Tiramisu Taste Testing © The Gracious Posse

Tiramisu Tasting.

Lastly, Sassy Grits and Sausage Casserole

grits casserole © The Gracious Posse

was another crowd-pleaser that KK served the morning after the Progressive Dinner. Make note of this when you need to feed a house full of guests over the upcoming holidays.

It Wouldn’t Be Summer without Flower Camp

Sisters aMl and mEl kindly shared their passion and talent for floral arranging with a few lucky friends. We learned about

Flower Camp arrangement © The Gracious Posse

using the new neutrals in Part One,

succulent preparation © The Gracious Posse

how to arrange with succulents in Part Two, and

fake peony © The Gracious Posse

how to make a fake peony in Part Three.

Winding Down the Season

As summer faded, many began the transition from the porch to the classroom. 

In Dorm Room Drama: Venus v. Mars, Alison chronicled the difference between girls 

Auburn dorm room

and boys

JDB's dorm

when it comes to decorating (or not) a dorm room.

We profiled our first Educator in Residence, Davidson President Carol Quillen.

Davidson College President's Welcome © The Gracious Posse

Charmed by the President’s home

Davidson College President's home © The Gracious Posse

and Carol’s influence on the college and beyond, we enjoyed our tour of the welcoming Davidson campus.

Leave it to sSn to keep us on our toes when it comes to being a tourist in our own hometown. In Cure the End of Summer Quandary with a Hometown Tour,

Segway Tour in RVA

she inspires us to see the sites we usually ignore in our daily travels.

Empty Nesting is something I’ve grown accustomed  to the past year, but it’s a new phenomena for Alison. See how she copes with it (or not)

The Homestead tower and motorcourt © The Gracious Posse

in Another Strategy for Surviving the Empty Nest: Avoid It.

tailgating with whoppie pies © The Gracious Posse

The change of season envelopes me with mixed emotions. I hate to say goodbye to the peaches, tomatoes and long summer evenings, but when I think of football season, tailgating, changing leaves, a fire in the fireplace, and soup on the menu, it makes me feel okay about retiring the swimsuit and sandals. I hope this post finds you happily drinking in the last remaining days of pour-ch season.  


August 29, 2014 

A Posse Challenge ~ Cooking for Two

Just about any mother with an empty nest will tell you that down-sizing dinner and keeping it interesting is one of the biggest challenges she faces. When I finally returned home after avoiding my newly empty nest for as long as my husband would permit, the first item on my agenda was dinner. Depression set in as I envisioned years of boring bagged salad and rotisserie chicken or baked fish looming in our future.

For 18 years, my ever-evolving tried-and-true dinner recipes have been intended for at least four. In more recent years, my athletic teenage son required hefty meals to meet his caloric demands as well as his finicky taste buds. My husband would rather not eat leftovers, so whipping up the favorites to eat over several days is really not an option; plus we really don’t need the heavier meals.

As I was shredding the chicken for our first night home, I realized it was time for an attitude readjustment. Instead of bemoaning our empty nest at every meal, I’ve decided to face the situation like a big girl and embrace the challenge of cooking real meals for two. Fortunately the first step to facing this challenge was sitting amongst my cookbooks practically untouched since I received it about ten years ago from aGw.

Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

Flipping open the Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook, I was delighted to find several recipes meant only for two. Written by identical twins who had been boarders at St. Catherine’s School here in RVA, it is filled with Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford’s stories of their food experiences living and working as twin daughters, chefs, wives and new moms. While they are stars in the food galaxy, their recipes are thorough and uncomplicated.

Each recipe is prefaced with an anecdote and often a suggestion for accompaniments. With beautiful pictures of some of the published offerings, the cookbook provides a comprehensive base of recipes and menu suggestions that are suitable for most any couple, whether just married or recently pared down. It evens offers suggestions for how to cook some of the meals together, as well as a whole chapter called Dinners & Desserts in a Dash. Although the book was published eleven years ago, the recipes are classic enough to stand the test of time save for a few calling for then-trendy sun-dried tomatoes.

Freshly inspired by this well-designed book, I decided to try their Corn-Chip Crusted Halibut with Creamy Salsa and Cilantro (recipe below). The fish was easy to put together, though their recommendation for two 8 oz. fillets was more than plenty. For side dishes, they recommended Sweet Corn with Jalapeño and Butter Lettuce with Mango, Goat Cheese and Mighty Mint Vinaigrette. Since sweet corn is at its peak right now in these parts, the first recommendation was easy. The Butter Lettuce salad was more time-consuming than anticipated because I had not made the superb vinaigrette (recipe below) ahead of time. Peaches and feta would work beautifully in the salad as well this time of year.

The result was a meal fit for a king and queen. Creating a lovely meal and discovering we could celebrate our new status were two revelations we felt demanded a bit of the bubbly. 

dinner for two with prosecco © The Gracious Posse

To our empty nesting posse, I challenge you to join me. Let’s try to create some nice dinners for two at least once a week. We’d love to share your pictures and recipes that even our friends with full nests can whip up for an in-home date night. We can’t wait to see what you concoct!

salutationa&eAugust 27, 2014

Corn Chip-Crusted Halibut with Creamy Salsa and Cilantro
Serves 2
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  1. 2 halibut fillet (4-6 oz. each)
  2. kosher salt
  3. ½ t ground cumin
  4. 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  5. 1 T fresh lime juice
  6. 2 handfuls corn chips, crushed
  7. ¾ cup premium-quality bottled salsa (not fresh)
  8. 3 T sour cream
  9. 2 T fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or Silpat pad and place halibut on it. Season both sides of fillets with kosher salt to taste and cumin. Combine the butter and lime juice and drizzle over the fillets. Top each fillet with a thick layer of corn chip crumbs. Cover fillets loosely with foil.
  3. Bake until fish is opaque in center about 18 minutes, removing foil after about 10 minutes.
  4. While fish is baking, whisk the salsa and sour cream together in a small saucepan over heat until just warmed, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place fillets on individual plates, top with creamy salsa and garnish with cilantro.
Adapted from Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook
The Gracious Posse http://thegraciousposse.com/

Mighty Mint Vinaigrette
Yields 1
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  1. ¾ c olive oil
  2. ½ c firmly packed fresh mint leaves
  3. ¼ c white wine vinegar
  4. 1 T plus 1 t Dijon mustard
  5. 1 T plus 1 t honey
  6. ¼ t kosher salt
  7. freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Combine olive oil and mint in a blender and process until puréed, about 15 seconds. Add vinegar, mustard, honey, kosher salt and pepper and blend until just incorporated. Do not over blend. Refrigerate covered for up to a week.
  1. Would be great with fruit or on lamb.
Adapted from Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook
The Gracious Posse http://thegraciousposse.com/