Fancy Sprinkles

Fancy Sprinkles.

I’ve mentioned before...  I kinda have a “thing” for sprinkles.

Well… what a SWEET surprise I came home to yesterday after an especially long day at the office to find a glittery, sparkly package in the mail pile with a sweet note from my bestie!

She has a knack for always knowing the right timing and just the right thing!

I’ve recently had a couple cookie fails in my attempts to try “something new” for Christmas cookies.

UGH!

Yep – happens to all of us I guess.

One was with a “best ever” sugar cookie recipe a baking blogger claimed to have refined after many attempts to create the absolute best.

Well…. NOT!  At least for me.  I knew when I made the dough, it wasn’t right….

Take it from someone who bakes cookies almost every week.  You get a “feel” for it.

I told hubby the dough felt dry, and I didn’t think they were going to turn out.

I baked a batch, and yep…. DRY!  (Though hubby didn’t seem to mind spreading jam on them like biscuits and enjoying them.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to make sugar cut-out cookies.  Anybody else have a “best ever” recipe I should try?

So even though it was late, I just couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of Sprinkle Cookies from a recipe I knew was yummy with these special Fancy Sprinkles.

I made one batch with the beautiful blue and white “Frostbite” sprinkles that had  hearts and stars and pearls and blue metallic balls and another batch with the adorable red, brown, and white “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” sprinkles – complete with tiny gingerbread men and mini marshmallows!

And, ironically, earlier in the day, a coworker and I laughed about the love her 6-year old son has for sprinkles and how he chose the “sprinkliest” cake he could find for his “second” birthday cake this year.

If you’d like my recipe for Sprinkle Cookies, just click here.  They are fun and festive and delicious!  I added just a smidge less flour to this batch and flattened the dough balls just a bit before baking to make this batch a little chewier.   I like how they turned out.  You can always adjust the amount of flour a bit to make your cookies flatter or thicker.

Thanks for sprinkling me with your friendship and love, Jill!

Happy holiday baking friends!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Liz the Lizard

Liz the Lizard Watercolor – 11×14

Liz the Lizard.

Have you heard of the lizard whose name is Liz.
Classiest lizard in the desert she is.

With pearls and diamonds and sparkly pink nails
She daydreams often of being in show biz.

She practices rhymes and humorous lines
as if she was preparing for an audition or pop quiz.

Nailing them every time – she surely is a wiz.
She’s a modern-day lizard, so be sure to call her Ms.

Yes indeed, Ms. Liz
that is.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Liz the Lizard was made especially for a friend’s grandaughter, who loves Klaus the Mouse – my very first published illustrated children’s book.  Granpap asked if I could make an Alex the Alligator and a Liz the Lizard for his two special little grandies.  I hope they all enjoy these two characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine.

Do you feel it?
Are you excited about all the possibilities the day may hold?

All the opportunites to make it special?
All the reasons to wake up?

Rise and shine
and cherish the moments!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Every time I hear or read or say the words, “Rise and Shine,” I think of Grandma

As a teenager, I loved to sleep in late – much like most teenagers – right?  I vividly remember hiding under the covers to keep from seeing the sun streaming in the bedroom and hearing Grandma  cheerfully holler from the bottom of the stairs on a weekend or summer morning, “Rise and Shine!”  She was always so excited and ready to start a new day.  I smile remembering that hope and excitement in her voice.  She didn’t work.  She didn’t even have a license to drive.  Her days were mostly spent at home working hard – inside and out – making it a haven for anyone who visited or lived there.  And yet she woke up so cheerfully each morning excited for what the day might hold. 

I have to admit – I love the early mornings these days – especially on  weekends and days I get to stay home.  I love thinking about having the whole day ahead of me. 

I baked Grandma’s Apricot Nut Bread yesterday.  It is a recipe I have shared here before.  And it truly really begins to feel like Christmas when I smell this bread come out of the oven.  The memories just come flooding back of Christmases past at Grandma’s house and the joy that radiated from her in everything she did.  

So rise and shine and cherish the possibilities this day will hold!

Alex the Alligator

Alex the Alligator Watercolor – 11×14

Alex the Alligator.

In a swamp near the equator,
lived an alligator named Alex.

Alex liked to jump and kick.
Doing fancy tricks
was part of his famous schtick.

Alex was often the very first pick
because he was so doggone slick
in the eyes and hearts of the alligator chicks.

For not many gators could be so quick
doing fancy acrobatics
and even arithmetic!

So if you ever find yourself near the equator
and see a slick jumping and kicking gator,
Say Hi to Alex…

Alex the Alligator.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Alex the Alligator was made especially for a friend’s grandson, who loves Klaus the Mouse – my very first published illustrated children’s book.  Granpap asked if I could make an Alex the Alligator and a Liz the Lizard for his two special little grandies.  This is going to be a surprise for him.  I can’t wait to create Liz next.

 

 

 

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies.

It’s December, and that means time to start Christmas cookie baking!

These cookies are a wonderful version of pecan pie in a cookie!

They are similar to Pecan Tassies, but a lot easier.

The cookie is buttery and shortbread-like, while the filling is nutty and sticky and sweet and AMAZING!

I had a little bit of extra filling left that I just couldn’t throw away, so I spread it on a sheet of crescent roll dough, rolled it up, and sliced it into 8 easier-than-pie pecan “sticky buns!”

So
worth
it!

Hope you will give these yummy cookies a try for something new on your Christmas cookie baking list.  I do believe these will become a regular in our home!

Here is the recipe I found at  Crazy for Crust, which I only slightly altered.  Thanks for a great recipe, Dorothy!

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Batter:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pecan Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse or flaked salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 Tbsp. Half and Half or Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Optional:  Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top of cooled cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in electric mixer until creamy.   Add in baking powder, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until well combined.

Shape dough, two tablespoons at a time, into balls, and place the balls two inches apart on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Indent a hole in center with your thumb.

Prepare filling by stirring pecans, salt, brown sugar, and vanilla with cream until it forms a thick mixture.  Spoon approximately one teaspoonful into thumb indentation of each cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on stone or cookie sheet before removing to rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cookies freeze well for up to a month.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Easy DIY Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar


Easy DIY “Christmas Countdown” Advent Calendar.

I’ve been dreaming of making this since summer….
and I finally got busy and did it this week.

Just in time!

I was looking for a fun way for my granddaughter to count down the days until Christmas with a little surprise each day, so when I found this inexpensive Over the Door Shoe Organizer this summer, I knew just what I was going to do.

I used fabric paint to paint the numbers on each “shoe pouch” – just the right number for an advent calendar!

And it was so much fun shopping for little toys and art projects and treats and hair bows and socks and mittens to fill all 24 compartments.

I think the anticipation of Christmas is almost more fun than the day itself.  I love the whole month leading up to it.

A friend shared this Advent Calendar of Kindness recently on Facebook, and I couldn’t resist sharing it too.

Don’t let the stress of the materialism of the holiday ruin this special time.  Small gifts of anticipation and everyday acts of kindness can make all the difference!  It’s what we need more of.

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew.

The weather has turned blustery here, and we are “turkeyed” out from Thanksgiving, so the other day, I made a comforting pot of bubbling, thick, hearty, old-fashioned beef stew.

I finally made a trip to a local pantry I’ve been longing to visit in the quaint town of Zelienople, PA (not far from Mars) – Penn Pantry, where I purchased some local, organic grass-fed beef (amongst many other wonderful treasures) that seemed to be made just for stewing.

I also had an abundance of fresh vegetables from my latest Misfit Market shipment that I knew would work perfectly in a stew – potatoes in sweet, red and white, carrots, parsnips, and onions.

So a stewing I did, and oh how we enjoyed!

Here is how I made ours.  Shake it up with your favorite ingredients, but feel the warmth and comfort in this great classic recipe.

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef, trimmed and cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (or your favorite)
  • 1 tsp. coarsly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage, finely minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or parsnips
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery

Directions:

Combine flour, seasoned salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Add beef cubes, and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add coated beef cubes and brown on all sides.

Remove beef from pot, and add vinegar and wine to oil and beef drippings in pot.  Stir and scrape browned bits from bottom of pan until all combined and boiling.  Add beef back in, followed by beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and sage.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about a half hour to an hour – until beef is tender.  (Timing will depend on the cut and quality of beef.)

Add onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery, and continue simmering until vegetables are tender and broth thickens – approximately one hour.

Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh, crusty bread to soak up every bit of gravy goodness to comfort your appetite and warm you from the inside out.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Stopped me in my Tracks

Things that have stopped me in my tracks…
lately.

This breathtaking scene along the road as I traveled home from a friend’s on a cold, rainy, otherwise-dreary day.

Watching and listening with deep admiration to Hubby deliver a heartfelt eulogy to his beloved aunt.

The unexpected, far-beyond-her-years empathetic eyes and hugs and words of a special 11-year old girl paying her respects at a funeral visitation.

The sweetest, kindest, most undeserved compliment made by my younger daughter-in-law over dinner.

The smell of my baby granddaughter’s head after annointment with the oil of chrism at her baptism.

The startling reality of what a powerful, important influence I have as a grandma to a precious two-year old.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Reflections of Thanksgiving

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Babies growing too quickly.
A loved one’s final day.
Family time together.
Thoughts of family apart.

Sons have become men
that make us gleam with pride.
Daughter in laws grow dearer
with each passing year.

Hubby’s smoked turkey
woos the crowd again.
Granddaughter’s first apple pie
sweetens meal’s end.

Pumpkin pie for breakfast
with a bestie and “our” mom.
Cocktails with our faves
to consummate a just-right day.

Waists growing thicker.
Hair becoming greyer.
Embracing the vulnerability.
Loving fiercely.

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi