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Every Day Needs a Little Frosting

valentine cupcakes

Working out at Zinger Fit produces mixed emotions in me. From a feeling of dread when Kelly (our trainer) demonstrates an intense circuit that makes me want to preemptively throw up to euphoria when we survive that particularly grueling session, we always wonder what experience awaits us.

One of my favorite touches happens when we think we’re all done. Kelly will throw in a little routine at the end to finish us off. Although difficult, we know the added exercise is good for us, so I not-so-affectionately call it frosting. 

Carytown Cupcake © The Gracious Posse

As with many things in life, it’s the frosting that makes the difference, the added detail that separates the good and better from the best. I believe that every day needs a little frosting, the extra zing that brings you joy, satisfaction, accomplishment, peace, resolve or relief. 

kMg's Easter 2013 cake © The Gracious Posse

Like the culinary frosting, daily frosting should be intentional to have the most impact. It’s wonderful to have coincidence or serendipity happen, but for optimal impact, intentional frosting brings the best result. The cupcake doesn’t frost itself. When you go that extra mile or crank out one more burpee,

Burpee 1 Collage © The Gracious Posse

Burpee 2 Collage © The Gracious Posse

you feel all the more accomplished.

Daily frosting can come in many flavors. For me, I get the biggest kick in the pants when I cross a pesky  chore off my do-list, one that has lurked there wayyy too long. Just imagine how I’ll feel when I finish organizing those photos.

Pearl's mini-cupcakes © The Gracious Posse

My other frosting flavors include conquering a small challenge, like when I finally learn the notes to a piece of choral music, or finding and finishing a satisfying book, completing a craft project, trying a new healthy recipe or connecting with a friend just because. 

Pearl's mini-cupcakes © The Gracious Posse

Have I convinced you that a day without frosting is like a day without sunshine? So, dear Posse, what flavor is your daily frosting?

salutatione&a

March 2, 2015

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Welcome, March 2015!

READ Art Show and Sale front

It looks like we have survived another February. Many of us, just barely. For a lot of people, especially those looking forward to a fabulous Spring Break trip, March will be a lucky month. Even if you are sticking close to home, these events may warm your souls.

Spring Forward

Spring Forward via iamtechnation.com

if only…
Sunday, March 8th at 2:00 am (ET)
set your clock an hour ahead and change your smoke alarm batteries

St. Patrick’s Day

lucky-easy-st-patrick39s-day-printables

Tuesday, March 17th
fyi: the 80-year-old Newark, New Jersey St. Patrick’s Day Parade has named its first woman to be the Grand Marshall. 

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox image via WikipediaEquinox happens when daytime and nighttime are 12 hours each, thanks to the perpendicular position of the earth’s axis to the sun’s rays. Just a little science refresher for the posse.
Friday, March 20th at 6:45 pm (EDST)

The Bizarre Bazaar’s Spring Market

2015 Bizarre Bazaar

Friday, March 20th 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday, March 21st 10 am – 7 pm
Sunday, March 22nd 10 am –  5 pm
Richmond Raceway Complex 

Glitter and Glue: An Evening with Kelly Corrigan

Kelly Corrigan

Saturday, March 21st 7 pm
lively author presentation, cookies and coffee reception, and book signing
a paperback copy of Corrigan’s latest book Glitter and Glue is included in the $30 ticket price
to benefit Jill’s Blankets
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Kelly Education Center

Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief Gala

CZC Grief Relief Gala

Saturday, March 21 6:30 pm
The Jefferson Hotel
benefits Comfort Zone Camp

La Traviata

Virginia Opera presents La Traviata

in Richmond March 27th & 29th
Virginia Opera
click here, for other locations and ticket details

7th Annual READ Art Show & Sale 

READ Art Show and Sale front

Opening Reception Friday, March 27 from 7 to 9 pm
free and open to the public Saturday, March 28 from 10 to 4 pm
featuring local and regional artists
benefits The New Community School

Support Virginia Green Tourism Oyster Roast & Festival

Support Virginia Green Tourism Oyster Roast & Festival

Saturday, March 28th
Historic Tredegar
proceeds support the work of the Virginia Green Travel program and green tourism practices and projects throughout the Commonwealth, including the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program 

I don’t know about you, but we sure are feeling green. May the luck of the Irish be with you all month long.

salutationa&e

February 27, 2015

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Happy National Clam Chowder Day!

Clam Chowder

Did you know that it’s National Clam Chowder Day? We are impressed if you did! To celebrate, Alison and I offer you two different recipes to try, depending on your cooking style, dietary demands and time.

Ellen’s Version

Bob Dempster's Clam Chowder @ The Gracious PosseBob Dempster’s Clam Chowder

This hearty version from lDd starts with a package of

Bear Creek Creamy Potato Soup Mix. Okay, the mix contains very processed ingredients, but the chowder is delish, a true crowd-pleaser. Its shelf-stable ingredients make is suitable to keep on hand. So for those of you who don’t mind a little semi-processed yum, or if you want to take a break from your whole food quest, this is the chowder for you.

Bob Dempster's Clam Chowder
A hearty clam chowder
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/4 cups Bear Creek Potato Soup Mix (one package)
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 2 cups clam juice
  4. 5-6 slices bacon, diced
  5. 1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla), chopped medium
  6. 1 1/2 to 2 cups coarsely-ground razor clams
  7. 8 ounces whipping cream
  8. sprinkling of chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Cook soup according to package directions, using water and clam juice, about 20 minutes to a simmer.
  2. In a separate deep fry pan, fry the diced bacon and chopped onion together until bacon is almost crisp and onion translucent. Drain fat. Add clams and stir fry until just heated through, about 45-60 seconds. Add cooked soup to fry pan and stir. Add cream and heat to just a simmer.
  3. Serve in bowls and top with chopped parsley.
Notes
  1. Find the razor clams near the canned tuna.
The Gracious Posse http://thegraciousposse.com/

Alison’s Version

For a gluten- and dairy-free alternative, I suggest this Paleo version of New England Clam Chowder. The best clam chowder I have ever eaten was on a chilly sunny summer day in Newport, Rhode Island. The Black Pearl‘s sublime stew-like rendition left a lasting memory. Since that tasty day, my goal has been to try to replicate this institution’s magic potion. While my Paleo attempt does not live up to that gustatory memory, this from-scratch version is surprisingly flavorful.

New England Clam Chowder Paleo-Style © The Gracious Posse

Besides the Virginia clams from the Chesapeake Bay, I didn’t tell my husband the main ingredients. Letting him know just how healthy it was would not have improved his enjoyment of this thick soup on a bitterly cold night. The key is an immersion blender.

New England Clam Chowder Paleo-Style
Yields 10
from scratch version of the New England favorite sans dairy and gluten
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Ingredients
  1. 24 Virginia Little Neck clams, uncooked
  2. 1/2 pound nitrate-free bacon, chopped
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 2 lbs turnips, cut into 2” pieces
  5. 1 lb cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  6. 1 cup bottled clam juice
  7. 1 t fresh thyme
  8. 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  9. coarse ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Scrub clams clean and add to a 3 quart saucepan. Cover with water to fill the pan halfway. Bring to a boil over medium heat. As the clams open, remove them to a new bowl. Set aside the clams and the pan of clam broth for later use.
  2. Add salt pork and onion to a 5 quart pot and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and bacon begins to brown.
  3. Add turnips and cauliflower to the onion mixture along with the clam juice and thyme. Just cover the tops of the vegetables with the reserved clam broth, careful not to add any sediment from the bottom of the broth. If necessary, add water to complete the cover.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the clams into bite-sized pieces.
  6. After 30 minutes, remove the pot from cooktop and, with an immersion blender, combine the ingredients into a thick soup.
  7. Stir in the coconut milk and the chopped clams until combined and reheat the chowder on low. Add fresh black pepper to taste.
The Gracious Posse http://thegraciousposse.com/

Let us know what you think of the recipes. Do you break out your own favorite version for this national observance? How do you like your chowdah?salutatione&a
February 25, 2015