Autumn in the Pumpkin Patch

Autumn in the Pumpkin Patch 9x12 Watercolor

Autumn in the Pumpkin Patch 9×12 Watercolor

Autumn is so leisurely lingering
and thoughts of pumpkins and trees in shades of oranges and red and yellow
are ever present.

I truly can’t remember when I have enjoyed the Fall season more.
The weather has been so beautiful.
Work has been busy.
Life has been full of exciting changes and anticipation.

One late evening this past week,
I felt the need… the urge…  the desire… to paint.
I opened my palette and wasn’t sure what to do.
So I searched my Pinterest inspiration and found and amazing artist, Herry Arifin,
whose style totally intrigued me!

The looseness, the light, the brightness, the bold strokes and color
totally captivated me.

I used one of his paintings as an exercise to practice and created this.
It doesn’t even come remotely close to the talent of Herry, but it was sure fun to try.

And I made myself do it from memory and imagination and with freedom and abandon as opposed to looking at and copying.

It’s been fun watching friends post photos of their little “pumpkins” in pumpkin patches and dreaming of our little pumpkin.  In fact, it is getting hard to think of much else!

This grandma-in-waiting is ready to take on the official role and title.  Just a few more weeks to go!

Happy Autumn!

Cheers & Hugs,



Starry Night Pastel


I stayed up way too late one night last week
(in fact it became morning)
deciding to play with a box of pastels (Sennelier halves) I bought on a whim
a while back.

It was fun drawing with the soft chalk
and then rubbing and blending
from black to dark blue to lighter blue to white
to create the night sky.

I then took a fine rigger brush
and some watercolor “mud” leftover on my palette
to draw the stark silhouette of a tree in the cold, starry night,
created with Dr. Phil’s Bleed Proof White (which I managed to smudge).

It’s no Van Gough,
but it is a starry night.  :)

Cheers & Hugs,


Carolyn Comes to Mars: Blogger Friends Meet Up


Brad and Carolyn, Mars PA Town Square at the Spaceship

One of the joys of blogging is the friendships developed with other bloggers.

Carolyn (aka JoyRoses who writes at Nuggets of Gold) is a friend I “met” about two years ago via the blogging world on WordPress when we both enrolled in Writing101 – a month-long challenge that offered writing prompts and a community of blogging students to encourage each other.

Well… yesterday Carolyn came to Mars to meet in person.  What a joy it was to give her a real hug, take her (and chauffeur/hubby, Brad) to get their photo taken in Mars at the spaceship, and get them souvenir Mars T-shirts to wear on the unseasonably warm and sunny October Sunday.

Charlie was equally excited to meet Carolyn (and Brad)!  He could hardly contain himself and kept jumping up on their laps wanting to give them kisses.


Charlie welcoming Carolyn and Brad to Mars

Carolyn and Brad had never visited Pittsburgh either, so a brief tour was in order including a trip up the Monongahela Incline to get a bird’s eye view of our beautiful city.


Monongahela Incline, Pittsburgh, PA

While waiting in line, we met two friendly gents who came all the way from Germany to see a Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots football game.  For real!  What fun we had chatting with them.  And of course, we had to get a picture, so our kind hubbies took photos of us with Tom and Nils the day before Tom’s 32nd birthday as they celebrated a lifelong friendship, and we all celebrated life and new friendships.


Tom, Jodi, Nils, Carolyn – Grandview Avenue Mt Washington overlooking Pittsburgh

Of course I made cookies for our guests, but I was a bit stumped to learn last minute that between the two of them – I had to consider gluten free and vegetarian.  Yikes!   Thank goodness I had one amazing gluten-free cookie recipe in my repertoire, and thankfully my Kicked Up Chewy Peanut Butter Cinnamon Chip Cookies were a hit.

While in town, Carolyn’s hubby mentioned a restaurant a friend recommended – The Church Brew Works.  It is a fun place where the owners actually converted an old Catholic Church into a restaurant/micro-brewery, so we decided to take them there.    The most breathtaking element of the amazing atmosphere and architecture of this restaurant/brewpub is the position of the brew house on the altar.  Because the altar was built as a centerpiece of the church, the steel and copper tanks gleaming in the celestial blue backdrop are nothing less than captivating.  We had an amazing meal that delighted  everyone’s dietary needs.


Brad and Carolyn at the Altar at The Church Brew Works

It was a lovely day, and a lovely meet-up of blogging friends.  And of course I sent them home with some extra cookies for the ride.

Thanks for the visit Carolyn and Brad.  We will remember it fondly and cherish the moments!

Cheers & Hugs,


Stuffed Pepper Soup


If you are a soup lover like me – especially this time of year when the temperatures turn cooler and the days grow shorter – you are going to love this hearty, rich, and flavorful meal in a bowl.


If you love the taste of stuffed peppers, but not the fuss, you are going to be in heaven.


Stuffed Pepper Soup is one of my all-time faves.  You can make it on the stove top or throw it in the crock pot to simmer all day.  Your house is going to smell like Grandma’s kitchen, and your belly is going jump for joy!

Here is my easy, yummy recipe.

Stuffed Pepper Soup


  • 2 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 cups diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


In a large dutch oven, brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for approximately one hour until peppers are tender and flavors have had the chance to blend.  Serve piping hot, and enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,

Doodlewashing During the Debate


Abstract watercolor in pink and green 9×12

Wednesday night was the third and final
2016 U.S. Presidential debate.

I do not wish to talk politics here,
because I choose to keep things positive.

But this is what I did while watching.
I just sat cross-legged with a block of paper, a brush, and a palette,
and this is what came to life.

I have no idea what it is supposed to be.
It may have begun as a pink rose that just grew and grew
and grew and grew as I watched and listened and dropped paint down.

I wasn’t sure if I would share it here as I have no clue if it is artistic
or creative or even appealing to anyone.

But to me, it is cheerful and happy and bright.
And I think, more than the political climate,
my heart and mind are thinking and dreaming of my first grandchild in several weeks!
And that makes me VERY happy!

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies


I made another trip to Aldi this past week, and was once again blown away by the great prices and quality of products.  I was a skeptic, but am a total new fan.   I found a super deal on a beautiful bag of roasted, salted Macadamia nuts.  I also bought some of their white chocolate chips knowing exactly the cookie I wanted to bake this week!


It was so hard not to eat all of those wonderful macadamia nuts before coarsely chopping them and adding them to the cookie batter!


I can’t swear to you that the whole 10 oz. bag was used in this recipe as it is likely a bit less from my lack of willpower, but these cookies still turned out to be one of my top faves!  I must give them away before I eat too many.  Luckily that is not a problem this week as there are plans for these tempting treats.

Here is my simple, classic recipe.

Jodi's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies


  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) softened salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2tsp baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 10 oz bag macadamia nuts (more or less), coarsely chopped
  • 1 12 oz bag white chocolate chips


Blend butter and sugar until creamy with electric mixer on high speed for approximately 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating.  Add vanilla, then salt and baking soda.  Turn mixer to low.  Slowly add flour, and mix just until fully incorporated.   Gently fold in macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips with wooden spoon or spatula.  Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll refrigerated dough into 1″ balls.  Place on backing stone or cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly.  Bake approximately 10 minutes until golden brown.

These cookies freeze well, and defrost quickly, so I store in Ziploc bags in the freezer.


Cheers & Hugs,

October is #NationalCookieMonth!

Seeing the Weeping in the Willow Tree


Weeping Willow Tree, Conneaut Lake, October 2016

When the physical things of this world
blur and fade through the lens of our eyes,

A different kind of vision
grows stronger and clearer…

The ability to see the weeping
in the leaves of the willow tree,

The arms that extend and embrace
in its branches,

The foundation that centers and steadies
in its strong, solid trunk.

The weeping willow
is crystal clear

in our heart
and soul
and mind.

Cheers & Hugs,