This picture taken two days ago says everything necessary to explain why we need Spring Break here at The Gracious Posse. See you in a week!
As I was visiting Atlanta for the Newlyweds‘ reception, my husband went to church. The preacher, Ann Dieterle, enlightened the parishioners about Carbon Fast 2014, sponsored by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, as an alternative to traditional ways folks tend to observe Lent, which started yesterday. You know the musings/resolutions, “I’m giving up . . .
sweets chocolate candy cakes cookies gluten alcohol wine red wine white wine wine during the week bread sugar in my coffee (mine for a few years)
Some put a positive spin to their Lenten discipline, declaring they will . . .
juice daily exercise daily walk daily pray daily meditate daily read the Bible or other Lenten study daily practice moderation practice meditation
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, many, like my husband and me, have been searching for a new way to reflect on the 40 days of Lent. Serendipitously Reverend Dieterle’s message arrived via LDB just in the nick of time, in fact just as I was putting sugar in my coffee yesterday morning, Ash Wednesday.
Carbon Fast 2014 aspires to inspire us to
Love the earth just as much as God does.
From these words by the remarkable Archbishop Desmond Tutu has sprung a movement to get us thinking beyond ourselves.
Dividing the 40 days of Lent into 5 weeks, Carbon Fast 2014 provides a theme for each week
When I read the themes, I thought, this is right up The Gracious Posse’s alley. We have written about these themes in the past in our Think Pink ~ Live Green category. The Communion Environmental Network of Anglicans (Episcopal Church in the USA) has prepared this 40-day Guide to observing Carbon Fest, which you can download from its website to print and fold into a handy reference.
This schedule suggests we Spread the Word today.
Tell a friend or family member that you are taking the Carbon Fast and encourage them to join you. If you are on Facebook, visit and Like https://www.facebook.com/GreenAnglicans
Alison and I have decided to take the Carbon Fast 2014, and we would love for you to join us.
While this Guide is a Christian document for a Christian season and contains scripture passages from the Bible, adopting a 40-day discipline to love our planet as much as God (or YHWH or Allah) does (to paraphrase Desmond Tutu above) should appeal to people of any religious persuasion. Let us know if you decide to take this journey and embrace Carbon Fast 2014. It’s not too late to start!
My 78-year young mother has been widowed for over 2 years. Since my father’s funeral, the thought of her facing the rest of her vibrant life alone has often made me sad. The match-maker in us says, good people should meet good people, and miraculously it has happened to her, although she’s known her match for over 50 years. So the corollary is, good people should re-meet good people. Here’s how it happened.
1953, Kerrville, Texas
Beth Hardy and Worth Duderstadt met as seniors at Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas. They dated a few times, but went their separate ways to college. Both married, raised families and led the good life. She eventually settled in Atlanta, and he in Texas. They shared one dance at their 50-year high school reunion, but otherwise had no contact. Each lost their spouse after 50+ years of marriage.
Beth wrote Worth a sympathy note last year after the death of his wife in April. Through a mutual friend, Worth contacted my mother by email in late June (timeline is key here). Thus began a long-distance romance via email and phone. Finally my mother encouraged Worth to come to Atlanta for a visit in October. I knew Worth must be a special guy when I saw how perfectly giddy my mother behaved, simply anticipating his visit, when I saw her in September.
Worth arrived to a carefully planned itinerary full of activities around Atlanta and friends to meet. Mom said they didn’t follow much of the itinerary because they were content to keep each other company in her home. After he left, my mother said they had an understanding. Let’s hear it for old-fashioned romance!
They’re engaged! I immediately shifted into turbo party-planning mode, but my mother insisted that their ceremony was going to be very small out of deference to Worth’s two daughters, who lost their mother less than a year ago. It just wouldn’t be right to put on a big to-do like that. I was sympathetic and obliged their wishes, albeit grudgingly.
March 1, 2014
The lovebirds are now newlyweds.
The two were married in an almost-private ceremony, officiated by a dear friend of my mother who is a retired Methodist minister. Two witnesses were also present, as required by law in Georgia. The five feasted at dinner afterwards, and mother’s friends threw a reception the next day in their honor.
May the serendipity that reunited the two of you and the joy of your new love continue to grace your life together for many wonderful years to come!
March 5, 2014
Today is National Pound Cake Day. Who knew? Appropriately it falls on the day before Lent, and its accompanying fasting, begins, but what happens to the leftovers? Freeze them for Easter?
Alison and I decided to embrace this little-known National Day set aside for the celebration of the wondrous mathematical ratio of one pound each
flour : sugar : eggs : butter
We tried three new (to us) recipes to share with you in honor of such a gluttonous day. (You’ll find printable versions of all three at the end of this post.)
Brown Sugar Rum Pound Cake
This recipe languished in my recipe clippings until I rediscovered it while sorting and filing my Recipes to Try, as chronicled in Rounding Up the Recipes. I made the cake to serve at my CAbi shows last week and regret that it took me so long to get around to trying it. The brown sugar adds a luscious caramel-like depth of flavor. The clipping received its promotion to the Tried and True recipe file in my kitchen and will be a go-to in the future.
Grandmother Cook’s Classic Sour Cream Pound Cake
kMg shared this recipe that came from her great grandmother.
Everyone should have this classic in your repertoire. Then you are free to adapt it for whatever flavors you like.
Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake
One riff on the classic is this chocolate version. Alison had been hunting for a simple chocolate loaf recipe since before Christmas, so she decided to try a Paula Deen pound cake rendition in chocolate. The only real difference between Grandma Cook’s and Ms. Deen’s is the substitution of ¾ cup dutch process cocoa for the same amount of flour, and what a decadent delight results.
Possibilities are Endless
Keeping the flour:sugar:eggs:butter ratio the same, you can develop your own pound cake recipe. For the coconut lover, you get the idea from my Heirloom Coconut Pound Cake recipe. Last week we celebrated my husband’s birthday with jMf‘s twist on the recipe as shared here by using butter instead of crisco and toasting the coconut. Quick searches for pound cakes containing my favorite ingredients (lemon, margarita, Kahlua….not all at once) yielded numerous results; no need to re-invent the wheel. I wondered if the latest foodie ingredients have made their way into pound cakes. Kale and Quinoa Pound Cake anyone?
- 1½ cups butter, softened
- 1 (16-ounce) package brown sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 t baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer about 2 minutes until creamy. Gradually add sugars, beating 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears.
- Combine milk, rum and vanilla.
- Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, begining and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in pecans, if desired. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13-cup Bundt or tube pan.
- Bake for one hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes; remove cake from pan and cool cake completely on wire rack.
- I used dark brown sugar and omitted pecans.
- ½ pound (2 sticks) butter
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs
- 2 t vanilla or (1 t vanilla with 1 t of extract of choice- lemon, almond or coconut)
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating each egg 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 t pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup cocoa plus extra for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sour cream, and sugar. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Add ½ the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, beat well, add the remaining flour mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Test for doneness and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes if necessary.
Maybe the demand for tickets was not quite like the frenzy for Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in 1966, but Saturday night’s Black and White Ball to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research came close. With a sell-out crowd filling The Jefferson Hotel‘s Grand Ballroom to capacity, everyone embraced the spirit of the evening. Most all the patrons heeded the invitation’s directive,
Black and white formal attire
even for the ladies. More impressive still was the number of guests who donned masks in the spirit of the evening.
is joined by fellow
With the clothing color palette limited to black and white, the Silent Auction spread throughout the second floor balcony and Empire Room really shined. Greeting attendees, the Art Walk featured works by some of our favorite local artists, including
Becky Jessee‘s very popular cows
and Sunny Goode‘s Trees, as well as
Ann McLean’s lovely rendition of The Jefferson Hotel.
At the Silent Auction tables,
I discovered colorful necklaces from two of my favorite jewelry makers,
Lori Daniel Rowland, left, and dear posse friend, jCb.
With a judicious use of beautiful white blossoms
and white masks
dancing on the ceiling, the Gala committee set a fitting stage for raising a lot of money.
Ever since 2008, black-tie fundraisers have become a bit passé as people aren’t as willing as pre-recession to part with their money in heated bidding wars for unique packages. That was not the feeling with Unmask a Cure. Starting with a vigorous game of Heads and Tails that I had first seen played at the Anything Goes Gala, most everyone stood up wearing a black or white necklace that they had purchased in order to participate. Thanks to electronic bidding devices, the Silent Auction continued through mid-dinner as patrons could keep up and raise their bids from their tables.
The Live Auction only contained 11 items, so the evening kept moving. One of the favorite packages was
For $250, anyone could raise her paddle so she could have a picture taken post-auction with this hunky linebacker, who also agreed to sign the photo for the purchaser. What a great way to spread this generous opportunity among many guests who might not have otherwise participated in the Live Auction.
Following the Live Auction, Slaughter Fitz-Hugh shared his personal experience with Type 1 diabetes before the Fund a Cure bidding began. As local children suffering from this disease helped on stage, obliging patrons easily raised almost $300,000, which will all be used for research. For RVA, that is one impressive figure, and it is in addition to the proceeds from the Live and Silent Auctions and Heads and Tails.
Though I have attended my share of black-tie fundraisers, my first JDRF Gala really impressed. The patrons understood the importance of the event and rose to the occasion in celebratory (and theme-oriented) fashion. With many staying to dance the night away after the fundraising activities were finished, the success of the JDRF’s Black and White Ball almost makes Oscar night look blasé.
You are finally here after a long, cold February. We hope that you deliver your promise of Spring on the 20th. While waiting to see what you have in store for us, we are really looking forward to
JDRF GalaSaturday, March 1st The Jefferson Hotel
CarniballSaturday, March 1st Children’s Museum of Richmond
Oscar Night Red CarpetSunday, March 2nd Can’t wait to see what the stars are wearing.
Fat TuesdayTuesday, March 4th What are you giving up for Lent?
Spring Break for The Gracious PosseMarch 8th – 16th Time to recharge
Spring ForwardSunday, March 9th 1:00 a.m.
St. Patrick’s DayMonday, March 17th Bells of Ireland display
First Day of SpringThursday, March 20th Will it really arrive?
Collectors’ NightSaturday, March 22nd Visual Arts Center of Richmond
Artful HealingSunday, March 23 Artful Healing to benefit World Pediatric Project
Did we forget anything? What are you looking forward to this March?
I have been meaning to share this recipe with the posse all winter, but you know how best intentions go. I call this Hearty & Healthy Meaty Veggie Soup because that describes it perfectly. For my family, especially, I don’t want to call it by the name it otherwise goes by: Fat Flush Soup. That moniker is just a little too graphic for most appetites, and the fact is this soup tastes so good that no one needs to know how good it is for you. While it is really easy to whip up when the winds starts to blow, the colorful vegetables also make it perfect for a cool spring day.
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 ¼ lbs. lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 large red, orange and/or green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
- 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 bottle (46 oz.) reduced-sodium tomato or V-8 style juice
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14 oz.) crushed or petite diced tomatoes
- 1 T fresh lime juice
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1/8 t cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ¼ cup each fresh cilantro and parsley leaves, chopped
- Bag of spinach, washed
- Fresh Parmeggiano cheese, shaved (optional)
- In a dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high heat about 30 seconds. Add beef, turkey or chicken and cook until small bits are just browned, about 5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.
- Drain pot, if desired, then add to pot and cook onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in next 6 ingredients and cooked meat. Cover and bring soup just to a simmer (do not let boil). Reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in cilantro, parsley and spinach. Cover and let simmer an additional 5 minutes.
- Garnish with shaved Parmeggiano cheese, if desired.
- Soup can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator or frozen.
My quest to Lighten Up My Paper Load is in full swing. After years of collecting tear sheets from magazines, it was time to complete steps 5 and 6 of my filing methodology.
Over the weekend, I finally attacked the remainder of the tear sheets awaiting me
and sorted them into stacks, tossing a fair number of sheets of questionable value.
I discovered new categories to add to the filing system, although not recipe related:
- Hostess Gifts
- Technology and Apps to Try
While inspecting my Recipes to Try stacks, I noticed an affinity for certain noshes because I had collected numerous versions:
- Bourbon Balls
- Pimiento Cheese
- Angel Biscuits
- Rum Raisin anything
- Cheese wafers and straws
Now when I have a craving to try one of them, I can simply consult the treasure trove I’ve filed in my basement.
In fact, I tested three firsts-for-me from the Recipes to Try file drawer for my CAbi show last night.
Although I didn’t lose any caloric pounds, I feel unburdened of pounds of paper weighing my psyche down. Give it a try!
Behind every young champion is a family who sacrificed something: time, money, energy, etc., and they’d never trade the experience for what they gave up.
Our in-house sage, Ellen, recently texted these profound words to some of the posse last weekend, and they seem particularly fitting to share this post-Olympics week. Ellen’s statement was in response to several of the posse’s offspring recently achieving goals they have been striving toward for years. The accomplishments range from earning a pilot’s license, winning high school state championships, securing national tournament berths, starring in a debut performance on a club team, claiming a spot at the NFL Scouting Combine and, in December, winning a Pop Warner Super Bowl. We have delighted in the success of each other’s children. For some, the victory is just the beginning, while other achievements mark the bittersweet end of a long journey.
When it is your child’s turn to take center stage, the nerves are amplified, and the pit in mom’s stomach threatens to swallow her. Watching your child on the verge of victory is almost as agonizing as consoling him in defeat. You know the effort your child made to reach that spot. You’ve lived it with him from the front seat of the car, the sidelines and the bleachers. You altered your schedule and sometimes your sleep patterns to get her to practice. Your memory is filled with the unique scents of the chosen endeavor (e.g. chlorine, hot-house sweat, freshly cut grass). Out of the sacrifices have come unique friendships borne of shared experiences.
Rare indeed is the child who can appreciate those sacrifices until the day her own child shows an affinity for something outside himself and the nurturing of that love begins. For aMl and her son, Swayne, the newly minted pilot and voice of the popular blog, From Private to Professional Pilot, that moment arrived when Swayne was just a toddler. His mom fostered his obsession with trains and planes by frequently taking him to the airport to watch takeoffs and landings (before 9/11) and, with picnics, to a spot overlooking the local train yard. As he grew, the two would plot travel by plane and train and began making pilgrimages to airshows and flight museums. Now almost the moment he was legally of age, Swayne has obtained his private pilot license and stands on the precipice of a long career in aviation.
For the vast majority of us, these recent successes will not lead to a profession (or any monetary remuneration). The rewards are much more intangible, yet equally valuable. I chuckled ruefully when I heard the story of the Olympic half-pipe gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington, whose father would sell a head of cattle from their Idaho ranch every time she had to travel to a competition. She, at least, could visually see her family’s sacrifice as the herd is now gone, but you know her parents never once begrudged the cost to let her live her Olympic dream and take her place on the medals stand.
While you are in the midst of being your champion’s people, it is easy to forget the joy that initiated the journey. Seeing the look of pride on a child’s face when he realizes that he has a special knack for an activity that he loves inspires his parents to plunge right in as well. At our house, the primary sport has been swimming, and for eight years I have served as a USA Swimming official. The by-product of this job has been meeting a lot of great parents throughout the state whose paths I never would have crossed but for the sport. As my son hangs up his goggles after years of 4 a.m. wake-up calls, I know that I wouldn’t trade our experiences for anything, even for a trip to Tahiti. Maybe one day he will appreciate how we rearranged our lives around his training and meets, but for now I am just glad that he knows he left everything he worked so hard for in the pool.
A house is NEVER finished!! A house is like a “life“; ”a scrapbook” of the lives living in it; and is always a “work in progress” over the lifetimes spent in it! A great house adapts to the family and animals who live in it! And it evolves as they do!
Every time I am on the verge of purchasing a piece of furniture or significant home accessory
asks states, that’s it, right? Then you’ll be done. In my typical ostrich way, I usually change the subject. His view of what makes a house a home is so very different from mine. Maybe it has to do with the fact that so much of his time is spent in the office doing what he does best. Also he was raised in a very simply furnished home by his single mom who sacrificed just to put her children through private schools when politics practically destroyed the Richmond public schools.
a beautiful Richmond living room ready for spring
Penelope’s quote above succinctly describes why I don’t expect our home to ever be done. An infrequent blogger, Penelope is a thoughtful designer and role model who helps her clients and family find ways to live with their passions. She is also a gracious reader who generously shares her remarkable taste.
She even had a suggestion for Ellen on how to position this bar cart in her living room.
I am sure the notion that a house is never done has my husband cringing right now. He just doesn’t get it. While he grew up playing tennis, squash and basketball, I was reading my mother’s decorating magazines, as well as Jane Austen and other female writers who peppered their novels with enticing descriptions of beautiful interiors and gardens.
a local Meg Turner garden
A few years back, Joni at Cote de Texas wrote a very insightful post explaining why men are from Mars and women are from Venus when it comes to their approaches to decorating the home. Entitled Convincing Your Husband to Decorate Your Way, Joni vividly describes the differences that may sound like stereotypes but ring true for many couples whom I know. She also suggests a great way to get your point of view across to your husband. While I commend her whole post to you, the following sums it up well:
To a husband, his home is somewhere he is comfortable, somewhere to relax after a hard day at work. It certainly isn’t something he has planned for after studying countless décor magazines or watching endless programs on HGTV. To the wife, though, she has been waiting since childhood to have her own house, decorated in her vision, a place to entertain and a cozy nest to keep her family close. It is everything to her. It is the center of her existence.
Reading great decorating blogs like Joni’s and Penelope’s, in addition to other favorites from Tobi Fairley, Lauren Liess, Brooke Gianetti, Mary Ann Pickett, and former Richmonders Daniela Shuffler and Lucy Williams (to name a few), continually informs and evolves my tastes and childhood fascination with gorgeous and welcoming homes.
local artist Becky Jessee‘s inviting living room
I have an ever-increasing shopping list in my head that I have hesitated to put in writing for two reasons: I don’t want to give my husband a heart attack or stroke, and I also don’t want him to hold me to it. Inspired by bloggers like Centsational Girl and Little Green Notebook, I love to shop with the posse for vintage finds that will move items off the list. Then I discover cleverly conceived details
like this doggie gate spotted on Lucy Williams’s blog
that would be perfect for our home (especially with our newest family member, pictured in the second picture above), and my list grows.
Our home will never be a candidate for the pages of House Beautiful, but it does reflect the imperfect people who populate and love it. As we live and breathe, so will our abode. Guess what, honey ~ it won’t be done until we are, so why not enjoy the journey?