Make Your Own Kind of Beauty

Make your own kind of beauty.
Create your own special art.

Make your own kind of happy.
Even if nobody else smiles along.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

This work of reused, repurposed, recycled building materials is proudly and prominently displayed outside of Construction Junction – one of my favorite shopping spots in Pittsburgh.  Construction Junction is a non-profit warehouse that supports and promotes conservation through the sale and reuse of donated  used and surplus building materials.  I visited this past Saturday with a friend when I snapped this photo.  Then…. as so often happens, a favorite song came to mind.  The song “Make Your Own Kind of Music” came into my head, and I made my own “Make Your Own Kind of Beauty/Art/Happy” lyrics.

The Odessa Chronicles: My Art on the Cover of a Book!

The Odessa Chronicles.

What an honor it is to see my original watercolor art on the cover of a book!

A sweet blogging friend, Carolyn Shelton,  challenged me a while back to create a painting of the one of the characters she and and her writing “partner in crime” (and partner in humor and heart and spirit), Colin Chappell created in their ongoing collaborative fictional story that was being shared on Carolyn’s blog.  When I painted Odessa the barn owl as a special gift to Carolyn, she loved it.  So I decided to paint the other characters that lived on Moonbeam Farm as well.

As the story grew, Carolyn and Colin decided to publish their series into a book, and they asked if they could use my art for the cover and inside the book.  I happily agreed, and now Carolyn’s dream has finally come to fruition!

Odessa is a barn owl with an attitude who befriended Jaxon, a magical jackalope.  The two of them met Dewy, a cat who desired a life of luxury, and the three of them moved into an empty farm.

Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone bought his dream farm.  His life was going to be spent immersed in the peace and quiet of rural life… until he discovered three lodgers had already moved in!

The Odessa Chronicles is a 290-page collection of adventure stories about the friendship and antics of Odessa, Jaxon, Dewey, and the Man Servant at Moonbean Farm that is fun for children of all ages.


Thank you Carolyn and Colin for allowing me to be a small part of this adventure!

If you would like to purchase a copy of The Odessa Chronicles, you can purchase it here.

I have also written and illustrated a small book of silly rhymes and tales you may be interested in called Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales. It is available on Amazon here.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Navy and Peach

Navy and Peach.

They complement each other so well.
One soft and subtle…
One strong and bold.

It was fun to use just three primary colors – indigo, red, and yellow ochre to create this loose abstract flower painting.

I swirled and splashed and dabbed and splattered.
And then I scribbled with a micron pen to create some fun shapes.

So good to find time “in between” to let loose with my watercolors!
So fun to “create” make-believe flowers.
So glad to cherish the moments
at TheCreativeLifeInBetween!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

Oh My Stars!

These fudgy, brownie-like, dark chocolate, chewy, but crispy heavenly bites may just have you seeing stars!

I saw a photo of these stop-me-in-my-tracks, make-me-wanna-bake, longing-to-get-in-my-belly cookies on ButterandBrioche, but alas the recipe was in metric measurements.

Thank goodness for Convert-me.com!

I’m not quite sure what the addition of ground coffee scientifically does to these, but I do know coffee somehow enhances the true flavor of coffee.

And the sprinkling of flaked sea salt that is just enough to balance the fudgy, chocolately amazingness…. well – all I can say is – you really want to try these!

Here is how I made them after converting:

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 22-24 oz high quality dark chocolate (I like Moser Roth 70% Dark Chocolate, which I find at Aldi)
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp instant or fresh ground coffee
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Flaked sea salt (Maldon is my fave!)

Directions:

Melt chocolate and butter in microwavable bowl for 1 minute on high.  Stir.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted and blended.  Cool.

Mix brown sugar and eggs with electric mixer until thick and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.  Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate.  Mix until well incorporated.

Add flour, coffee, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until combined.  Add water, and mix until combined.

Refrigerate the fluid batter for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop batter with a cookie scoop onto baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet.  Once sheet is full, tap lightly 2-3 times on counter to slightly flatten cookie dough.  Sprinkle with a little flaked salt.

Bake for approximately 11 minutes.  Open oven and tap sheet lightly to flatten a bit.  Return to oven for 2 more minutes.  Repeat until cookies are firm around the edges and set in the middle with plenty of crinkles.

Cool for at least 10 minutes on baking stone or cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Blossoming Love

Blossoming Love.

It wraps itself around you
like vining tendrils
clinging tightly

sprouting delicate buds
that unknowingly unfurl
into beautiful blossoms.

Love.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

I took this photo at a beautiful outdoor wedding reception I attended this past weekend. This vining white clematis seemed so symbolic of the blossoming love of a new marriage.  It also made me think about the blossoming love I have for my newest granddaughter – only a few weeks old – but who is so tenderly wrapping herself around my heart.

Christmas in July

Bringing Home the Christmas Tree in My Little Red Wagon – 11×14 Watercolor

Christmas in July.

Today is July 31, 2018, and it is the last day of #WorldWatercolorMonth 2018.

And even though I’m wearing shorts and the air conditioning is on, I’m starting to think about Christmas.

Just a teensy bit.

Christmas is such a fun time to create art.

I chose to use my little girl character created for this painting (inspired by my first granddaughter) to feature in this first Christmas watercolor for 2018.

My oldest daughter-in-law and I are starting to think about what we are going to create for fall and the holidays for our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop and Berry Vine Gifts and the big Mars Fall Craft Show this year.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with and sharing it here.

I’m looking forward to another Christmas, but with TWO granddaughters in our family this year!!

I’m looking forward to finding time for art.

I’m grateful to Charlie O at Doodlewash for hosting #WorldWaterColorMonth again this year and for honoring me wth the privilege of being a World Watercolor Month Artist Ambassador.  (Today is your last chance to purchase the souvenier pouch that supports the Dreaming Zebra Foundation in giving art supplies to underprivileged children throughout the world!)

I’m grateful for your visit here today.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake.

I am a complete sucker for crumb cake.  It is most likely my Achilles heel.  I will say I don’t want a piece but will sliver slices away and pick off crumb topping until the whole cake somehow seems to disappear.

When I had a huge bag of sweet dark cherries lingering in the refrigerator one Sunday a week or so ago and the desire to bake something, I knew I found “IT” when I came across this recipe I slightly tweaked from Laura at Tutti Dolce who described the cake like this:

The best kind of cherry crumb cake is a plush buttermilk cake, scented with almond and vanilla, and topped with a scattering of sweet dark cherries. Piled high with buttery crumbs and baked until beautifully golden, this is the cherry cake your summer needs.

Laura had me at “plush!”

Here is this divine crumb cake recipe.  This IS the cake of your summer needs!

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 10 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbsp vinegar let set for 5 min)
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 lbs dark sweet cherries, pitted

Crumb Topping:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 10 in. springform pan.

Prepare crumb topping by combining flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  Add melted butter and extract and toss with a spoon or your fingers until crumbly.

Prepare cake batter by beating butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add baking soda and salt.  Combine buttermilk and extracts.  Then alternately add buttermilk and flour in three additions just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan.  Top with an even layer of pitted cherries, pressing lightly into batter.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 15 mins. in pan.  Remove springform side, and cool completely.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Each New Day

Early Morning- Mars, PA – July, 2018

Each New Day.
(Early Morning Observations)

Each new day
is another opportunity to
continue building,
add another layer,
strengthen the foundation,
claim your space.

Each new day
is a gift to
live and grow
and simply be
the uniquely wonderful you
you were meant to be.

Shine in the light
of each new day.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi