Klaus the Mouse and his friends have become a Book!

Klaus the Mouse and his friends have become a Book!

Some of you who have been hanging around here for a while at TheCreativeLifeinBetween may remember Klaus the Mouse, who lived in a teeny tiny house.

You might also recall Hedy the Hedgehog who didn’t like to go to bedy.

Hedy the Hedgehog

Then there’s Chuck the Duck and Pam the Lamb.  There’s an Otter named Potter and Mig the Pig.

Adele the Gazelle has a smell that casts a magic spell, and what a phenomenon is a Fawn named John!

Chippy the Chipmunk, Rooty the Rooster, Hal the Colorful Cow, a Bumble Bee Named Buzz, and Gail the Snail.

They all joined together in this sweet little collection of watercolors and silly rhyming tales.

Thanks to so many of you who encouraged me along the way.  You helped make it happen!

My first published book!  A collection of silly tales for children 3-103.

If you would like to purchase, here is a link:  KLAUS THE MOUSE.

And when you get to the checkout, get a 20% Discount by entering “WELCOME20” in the Promo Code box.

Happy Reading, Happy Sharing, Happy Laughing.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

When I have a head cold, nothing makes me feel better than the smell and taste of good old-fashioned chicken noodle soup.

So when my throat started aching, nose started running, cough began croaking, ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton, and head began pounding this week, I knew I had to get a pot of soup on.

Not only does the smell comfort me and remind me of Grandma’s house and love, but the steam clears up the stuffed nose and the warm broth soothes my sore throat.

When other foods lose their flavor when your head is congested, nothing tastes as good as homemade chicken soup.

If you are a beginner cook, I hope you will find this recipe easy to follow.  It is made from staple ingredients I almost always have in my kitchen, and though it takes a couple hours to simmer,  you can throw it together quickly and forget about it during that time – enjoying the aroma and anticipation of comfort.

Here is how I make it.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

  • Servings: approx. 12
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I like to use Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts)
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 sticks celery cut into 4-5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shortcut carrots
  • 5-6 tsp. chicken soup base (I like Bell-View)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved
  • 1/4  cup fresh chopped parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper
  • 12 oz. pkg Kluski egg noodles (I like Pennsylvania Dutch brand)

Directions:

Place frozen chicken breasts in large soup pot.  Cover with 12 cups cold water.  Add celery, carrots, chicken base, whole garlic cloves, onions, parsley, and pepper.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer with lid tilted slightly so it is not tight fitting, but allows steam to escape.  Simmer for approximately 2 hours or until broth level reduces 1/2 – 1 inch.  You can tell this by looking at the side of the pot where a line will be formed where soup started.  This will allow the broth to build depth of flavor.

When soup is almost done, boil noodles in a separate pot, cooking 2-3 minutes less than directions.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.  Set aside.

When soup broth is done, pour through strainer into a larger pot.  The broth will go into the pot, and the chicken and vegetables will remain in the strainer.

When cool enough to handle, chop chicken and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Add back to broth, then add drained and rinsed noodles.   Stir to incorporate all.

Your soup is now ready to enjoy.  This soup keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator and also freezes well.

Beginner’s sidenotes/tips:  You can certainly use a whole chicken or chicken parts, but it is a lot more work to clean the chicken from the bone, and remove the skin and fat after cooking to cut up for the soup.  Using chicken breasts also eliminated the need to allow the broth to cool and fat to rise to top to skim off as there is little to no fat in the chicken breasts.  Chicken breasts also allow for a heartier soup with big chunks of tender chicken.  Buying a better grade and organic chicken will give you better flavor and better food value.  I’ve found with cheaper brands of chicken, there is fat and gristle that needs removed as well as ligaments that need cut out.

You can certainly use whole raw carrots, but the convenient short-cut carrots save the need for peeling and cutting down carrots into manageable pieces.

While dried herbs are always good to have on hand in a pinch, nothing will make your recipes better than using fresh herbs.  Fresh parsley as opposed to dried will really add a whole new sophisticated level to your soup.

Always cook your noodles separately, and drain and rinse well in cold water.  This will remove the starch that cooks off the pasta from being in your soup and “muddying up” the broth’s texture and flavor.  Rinsing in cold water will stop the “cooking” that still continues in food like pasta while it is still hot.

Cook noodles 2-3 minutes less than directions say to avoid soggy, mushy noodles in your soup.  As they sit in the soup, they will soften and plump even more, so no need to over-cook.

Do not add oil or salt to the noodles when boiling.  There is plenty of salt in the soup base that will make the broth.  It is almost impossible to “unsalt” soup, but additional salt can always be added for individual taste or preference.  If you over-salt, add more water to broth or consider boiling a whole peeled potato in the broth.  The potato will absorb some of the salt.  You can then throw the potato out, hopefully salvaging your broth.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Special Sunflower in Honor of Baby’s Namesake

Sunflower Watercolor 11x14 140lb Saunders Waterford

Sunflower Watercolor 11×14 140lb Saunders Waterford

A Special Sunflower in Honor of Baby’s Namesake.

Last Wednesday I posted a Yellow Rose Watercolor and told you about a special baby we just welcomed into the world and our extended family who is named after her two great grandmothers.

One great grandmother’s favorite flower was yellow roses.   The other’s favorite was sunflowers.

I tried to create this sunflower in a similar style and using many of the same colors as the yellow rose so they might look nice hanging together in baby’s room.

I hope her mommy likes this one and our little girl will have these as keepsakes throughout her life representing her special name and a special love I have for her and her family.

Though I sell most of my art in prints and note cards, these two paintings will be be one of a kind for this little one, with the exception of one print being made for each grandmother in remembrance of their mother.

Welcome to the world our newest little McHendy!  Love and be Loved!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Interested to see other art?

www.mx2d.com
Berry Vine Gifts Artisan

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash.

I have always enjoyed spaghetti squash, but now that I have discovered this recipe…….. well…. now I LOOOVVVEE spaghetti squash!

This is absolutely the most amazing way to eat it!

Imagine a version of mac ‘n cheese without the macaroni carbs or calories and replaced with healthy spaghetti squash “noodles.”  (Macaroni carbs 78g/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash carbs 7g/cup – Macaroni calories 221/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash calories 31/cup!)

But…… it also has the most amazing flavor, you won’t even miss your macaroni!

When I saw a recipe at Eatwell101 for this amazingness, I knew I had to try.  I tweaked it up a bit, and here is how I made it.

Hope you will give it a try!  You won’t be sorry!

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Half and Half
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions or green onions
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheese – I used the following combination:
    • 1/4 cup Mozarella
    • 1/4 cup White Cheddar
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan
    • 1/4 cup Gruyere

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut both ends off of spaghetti squash and cut in half lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds.  Place both halves in a 9×13 baking dish flesh side up.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Combine half and half, garlic, chicken base (or bouillon), thyme, and scallions in a small bowl.

Sprinkle half of shredded cheese in the cavities of each halved squash.  Pour half of cream mixture into each squash half.  Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Roast for 40 mins, or until squash flesh is tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and carefully scrape squash from skin with a fork creating spaghetti “noodles.”  Mix well with cheese and cream, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

You’ve Always had the Power

Airquest Aviation, Butler, PA September, 2017

Airquest Aviation, Butler, PA September, 2017

You’ve always had
the POWER
my Dear,

You just had
to learn it
Yourself.

-Glinda, the Good Witch
The Wizard of Oz

Don’t doubt that you can do it.
Don’t doubt that you have what it takes.

Trust in yourself.
You have it in you.

You can do it.
You have the power within you.

You’ve always had the power.
You just need to trust in yourself.

Believe in yourself.
You’ve always had the power.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Let’s be Better Fixers

The Old Farmall Tractor, Mars, PA - September, 2017

The Old Farmall Tractor, Mars, PA – September, 2017

Let’s be Better Fixers.

Grandma was a fixer….
From very early on, when she was only 9 or 10 years old,
she was the cook, laundress, housekeeper, and “mother” to her younger siblings after her young mother died.

She learned to splice electric wires and plumb a bathroom,
she could make a hearty feast from a bone,
she mended and hemmed and soaked and bleached and waxed and scrubbed.

She did this throughout her entire life.
She washed out bread bags and hung them on the line to dry to re-use.
She repaired lawn mowers and glued broken concrete bird baths back together.

When I was young, I thought it silly.
Sometimes I was even embarrassed of her patched clothes
or meager belongings and “fixed” things.

But Grandma is gone.
And the longer she is gone, the more I admire the way she lived.
She didn’t throw things away – she fixed them.

Do we too quickly throw things away these days?
Marriages?  Friendships?  Aging parents and grandparents?
Kids with bad behavior or bad grades?

We need to cherish what and who we have while we have them.
Because some things we love won’t last or be with us forever.
We should love, care for, fix when broken, and heal when sick our “broken” things.

We keep them because they are worth it.
Because we are worth it.
Let’s try to throw less away, and let’s be better “fixers!”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili.

Autumn is the season for all things pumpkin!  (Can I get an “Amen?”)

So when a friend recently mentioned pumpkin chili, I just knew I had to try it.

I found a recipe online and tweaked it a bit.

And Oh My Pumpkin Lovin’ Heart!!!!!

Not only is this pot of comfort delicious, it is healthy and nutritious!  It’s chock full of veggies and ground turkey and chicken.  Pumpkin is heart healthy with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.  Tomatoes provide the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

A tub of this is being delivered today to a family near and dear to my heart who just welcomed a new baby (their second), along with some cornbread, so busy Mommy doesn’t have to worry.  Hoping big brother loves this as much as my granddaughter loved sampling all the ingredients that went into making this yesterday.

Give this yummy recipe a try, and let me know how you LOVE it.

Happy Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 6 links (8 oz.) sweet apple with maple chicken sausage (or your fave), chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • 2 16 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 16 oz. cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnishes (optional):  sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions

Directions

In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and saute onion and garlic for 2 min.  Add peppers, and saute another 3-4 mins.  Remove from pot and reserve.

Add 2 more Tbsp. olive oil to pot, and brown ground turkey and chopped chicken sausage approx. 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add veggies back into pot, along with beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices.  Stir well.

Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

To serve, garnish (if desired) with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

I want to ask you …

I want to ask you …

What makes your heart skip a beat?
What memories cause goosebumps on every inch of your skin?

I want to ask you …

Who has hurt you so deeply that you have lost all confidence in who you really are?
What loss has caused bitterness in your soul?

I want to ask you …

If you could be anywhere right now, doing anything you wanted to..
where would you be, and what would you be doing?

I want to ask you …

When you take a deep breath and close your eyes, what is the first thing you think about?
Does it make you happy, or does it make you sad?

I want to ask you …

What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning?
What makes you smile when you go to sleep at night?

I want to ask you …

What do you think life is really about?
What is our purpose?

I want to ask you …
but is it okay?

Maybe I should just ask you …
How was your day?

Isn’t that
the polite thing to say?

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi