BobRockefeller's post in Can the published date of a blog post be changed after it is published? was marked as the answer
I may have answered my own question by stumbling around in the blog post options. There's a calendar at the bottom of the pane for selecting the date!
BobRockefeller's post in A blog with no featured images does not left align was marked as the answer
That was just the hint I needed. I set the display of posts to 'single column,' text alignment to 'left,' and turned on the excert which gave me just what I wanted. Thanks!