To Notice the Last Glow of Light

To Notice the Last Glow of Light.

To feel the softness,
and experience the gentle breeze,
to notice the last glow of light shining through…

Even amidst the things that choked you,
the experiences that broke you,
the storms that turned your world upside down…

These are the blessings of life,
that give us the strength,
and give us grace…

To be courageous,
and brave,
to persevere and to grow….

Into the confident beauty
we were meant to be
and share with the world.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Where are you going, leaves?

In autumn the leaves come blowing, yellow and brown.
They rustle in the ditches, they tug and hang on the hedge.
Where are you going, leaves?  Far, far away.
Into the earth we go, with the rain and the berries.
Take me, leaves, O take me on your dark journey.
I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-leaves.
In the deep places of the earth, the earth and the rabbit.

Silverweed, Watership Down

Currently reading “Watership Down” by Richard Adams.

Have you read this classic?

We are reading it in preparation for our upcoming book club.

Would love to hear thoughts from those who have read.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake.

Our family is pretty much huge fans of Reese’s peanut butter cups and all things peanut butter and chocolate.

So when it came time to celebrate one of my son’s birthdays recently, I was excited to try this Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake recipe I found at Life, Love, and Sugar.

Disappoint it did not!!! Oh the chocolately peanut buttery amazingness!

Want to see it a little closer?!

This cake is not for the faint of heart….  yes -it is only for the most serious of chocolate and peanut butter addicts!

Want to see what a slice of it looks like?

Yep – that is three heavenly layers of moist chocolate cake separated only by a fluffy peanut butter frosting and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups!

Can you even stand it??!!

As much as we all love our peanut butter cups, we decided this cake would be just as delicious or possibly even better with half the frosting, so that is how I will likely make it next.

You decide – half the frosting or all…. but I’m betting you are going to be somebody’s super hero if you make and serve this cake!

Here is how I made it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

  • Servings: 1 large cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup hot water

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 9 cups powdered sugar
  • 6-8 Tbsp half and half

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Garnish:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare three 9″ cake pans by spraying them with Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray then placing a parchment circle on the bottom.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt in a bowl.

Combine milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in an electric mixing bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixing bowl, and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the hot water to the batter, and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven, and allow cake to cool in pans for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.   When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, overnight or for several days or weeks.

When ready to assemble cake, prepare frosting by combining the butter and peanut butter with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add half the powdered sugar until incorporated.  Add half of the half and half and combine.  Add remaining powdered sugar, then remaining half and half, and combine until smooth and fluffy frosting is formed.

Place first layer of cake on a serving plate.  Top with frosting and 3 chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Add the next cake layer and repeat frosting and peanut butter cups.

Add the final cake layer and frost top and sides of cake, reserving 1 cup of frosting for piping decorations if desired.

Make chocolate ganache by heating 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream in microwave for 1 minute.  Add one cup of chocolate chips.  Let set for a couple minutes, then stir until smooth ganache is created.  Pour on top of cake allowing some to drip down sides.

Decorate top of cake with chopped and halved Reese’s peanut butter cups and piped florets of frosting.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree Watercolor - 11x14 - 140lb Fabriano Artistico

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree Watercolor – 11×14 – 140lb Fabriano Artistico

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree.

Is anybody else starting to think about Christmas?

When my boys were young, I loved getting ready for the Christmas holiday.  I would often start playing Christmas music in October… much to Hubby’s dismay.

We prepared letters to Santa, and I shopped and put carts full of toys on “lay-away” months ahead of winter.

My best friend and I went to craft shows and stores and bought santas and snowmen and other holiday decorations, as well as things to make decorations – often while pushing strollers and carrying diaper bags.

I would prepare for “Sammy” the elf to make his arrival at our house and plan out his adventures each night when the boys went to bed to surprise them in the morning.

I created homemade Christmas cards for the boys to color (and later they drew them) to send to friends and family.

I stocked up on sugar and flour and baking supplies when they were on sale and collected festive tins to make hundreds of cookies and dozens of sweet breads and nut rolls to share with friends and neighbors.

As the boys got older, the excitement of Christmas dimmed a bit.  We still enjoyed it, but the excitement leading up to it was not the same as when they were young and the magic existed.

But now….. I’m a grandma!  And that just makes me absolutely giddy for Christmas again!

And since my daughter-in-law, Colleen, and I have created our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop and have started also selling our art at a local gift shop, Berry Vine Gifts, it is so fun to get excited about preparing for Christmas again.  And it seems there are others like me out there, because holiday cards and paintings have already sold!

So I’m having fun creating Christmas and holiday art… like this classic red truck with a Christmas tree.  Doesn’t it just make you so nostalgic about Christmas?

So even though we are still experiencing 80 degree Autumn days, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  It’s so fun to dream!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Tip Toe through the… Fallen Leaves – A Charlie Guest Post

Tip Toe through the… Fallen Leaves:  A Charlie Guest Post.

I’m trying to tip toe,
taking it nice and slow..

but these crispy, crunchy leaves
which are supposed to be up in the trees

are warning my prey
and giving me away!

Good thing I’m only sneakin’
up on Mom who is peekin’

through that silly camera lens
that causes her to spend

way too much time
thinking of silly rhymes.

(Good thing I come along every once in a while and give her a break!)

Woofs & Wags,
Charlie

Charlie is an adopted dog with brown eyes and a white-tipped tail who brings joy and laughter to his family and friends.  Charlie is a gifted writer, raving food critic, cat, chipmunk, and donut lover, and exceptionally photogenic model.  Some of his best friends are Mike the UPS Man, Cliff the Mailman, Jaeger the neighbor dog, and ANYONE who delivers pizza to the house.   If you would like to read more guest posts by Charlie, simply type “Charlie” into the Search box at the top right hand corner of this link: thecreativelifeinbetween.com.   If you would enjoy a companion like Charlie, please consider pet adoption.

 

 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.

It’s the most pumpkiny time of the year…….. (are you singing with me to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”)

Seems we just can’t get enough of it.

I know I’m having fun trying new things with pumpkin…. Like my recent Pumpkin Chili recipe!  YUM!

How about a new twist on old-fashioned snickerdoodles by pumpkin’in them up?

Oooo Laaa Laaaa!

They just taste like Autumn!

Hope you’ll give them a try.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • For rolling:  1/4 cup sugar + 2 tsp ground cinnamon, combined

Directions:

Cream together butter and sugars with electric mixer.  Add egg yolk, vanilla and pumpkin, and combine.

Add next 8 ingredients, followed by the flour, and mix until combined.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll and shape dough into golf ball sized balls.  Roll balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Place on baking stone or sheet and bake approximately 12 minutes until tops begin to crack.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking stone/sheet for an additional 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe tweaked very slightly from Cooking Classy

 

Autumn’s Kaleidoscope of Color

Flames of crimson, pomegranate, and persimmon,
ambered gold, chartreuse, and mossy greens

struggle to compete with the saturated sapphire sky
marbled with softly suspended cottony clouds.

The intensity of the beauty surrounding me
almost overwhelms my senses.

My eyes and my mind try to absorb it all
as if snapping photos in a continuous burst mode

trying to find a special place to store them
to remember on a dark, dreary day

when my heart can’t remember the bright warmth
or the splendorous display of Autumn’s kaleidoscope of color.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry.

Do you love going to those fun hibachi restaurants where they cook delicious stir fry meals right before your eyes?

This honey garlic chicken stir fry recipe reminds me of the fresh deliciousness of those experiences.

This might very likely be my all-time favorite chicken recipe!

It is simple and easy, made from ingredients typically kept on hand, and so adaptable to your tastes.

Make it with mushrooms and snow peas and onions if they are your favorite vegetables or what you have on hand.

Make it with beef or pork or shrimp – whatever you like best.

Whatever you like, please do try this awesome recipe.

I wonder if it will become one of your favorites like it is for me?

Here is how I made it this past week.

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  While oil is heating up, steam carrots in microwave for 3-4 minutes.

Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to rest.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, and zucchini to skillet.  Stir fry until vegetables are tender (approx. 3-4 mins.).

Remove veggies from skillet, and allow to rest.

Add remaining oil to skillet and stir fry seasoned chicken.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Add the chopped garlic, and cook for approx. 30 seconds.

Add the veggies back to the pan, and cook for a couple more minutes until the veggies are warmed through.

In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, honey, and soy sauce.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Cook for one minute.

Whisk cornstarch with equal amount of cold water.  Add to skillet.  Bring to a boil, and cook for another minutes or so until sauce begins to thicken.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from DinnerAtTheZoo.

It’s All My Friends!

“It’s All My Friends!”

People author and illustrate and publish books for many reasons I’m sure.

Dreams of fame and fortune…
Checking off a bucket list item…
Creating a legacy…
Fulfilling a life-long dream…
Sharing an important story…

For many – it’s a passion.
Writing is like breathing.
It is something they just have to do.

I love to read.
I admire writers.
I admire artists and illustrators.

I never, however, really aspired to be an author…

Well – maybe it fleetingly crossed my mind from time to time…
Maybe a cookbook…
or an autobiography of sorts.

I definitely never considered I’d be an illustrator.
Heck – until about two years ago, I would have never
even dreamed I would share a stick figure I drew.

But then I discovered the joy of blogging
through the encouragement one of my sweet McHendy “daughters.”

And then I discovered watercolor art
through this wonderful blogging community.

With the encouragement of so many,
I shared my watercolor paintings.

I created some fun little animal characters
with silly rhyming stories to go with them.

One very special friend here at TheCreativeLifeInBetween.com
began sharing my little animal characters and their stories with her grandson.

Three and a half year old Benjamin
became one of my greatest supporters and fans.

Benjamin would ask daily to hear stories from his grandma “Gem’s” computer,
along with those of his favorite books.

He even started asking for special characters,
which is how “Earl the Squirrel” came to be.

So with full permission from “Gem” and his Mom,
I am sharing this joyful photo of Benjamin with his copy of my first-ever
authored and illustrated book, “Klaus the Mouse – and other Silly Animal Tales.”

Per Gem, when Benjamin received his book,
he squealed with delight and laughter,
“My friends!  It’s all my friends!”

Could there be any greater joy…
any greater reason or purpose…
to author and illustrate a book?

The joy in those words…
The twinkle in those eyes…
The delight in that smile…
Those beautiful little hands holding the book.

Thank you Benjamin!
Thank you Ellen (aka “Gem'”)
for fulfilling a dream
I didn’t even know I had.

Because of you…
I visited the dentist yesterday,
and the receptionist said,
“I just saw your book!”

Because of you…
a friend told me he purchased my book for his 4-year old niece’s birthday.

Because of you…
my book is being shipped all the way to Ireland.

Because of you…
so many sweet friends have bought “Klaus the Mouse
for their children and grandchildren.

What a joy it is to share a little piece of me...
A little bit of my art…
A little bit of my writing.

Thank you Benjamin!
I can only imagine the impact you will have on the world in 20 or 30 years!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

If you would like to order a copy of “Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales,”
you can do so by clicking here.