Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake.

This is NOT your momma’s zucchini bread recipe!

Are you overloaded with zucchini and looking for new recipes to use up the abundance you have this time of year?

You have to try this amazing cake!  A co-worker made this to share for a recent celebration at work, and I knew I had to make it.

I modified it slightly from the recipe he found at I Am Baker by cutting the frosting in half, and it was absolutely amazing.

Go bake this!

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • Lemon Buttercream Frosting
    • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 Tbsp)
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • Dash salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Shred zucchini and spread out on a clean dish towel.  Roll up and squeeze gently to drain a bit of the excess water.  Set aside 2 cups of shredded zucchini.

Beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, and lemon zest with electric mixer.  Gently fold in the zucchini.

Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir until incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour half of batter into each cake pan.

Bake approximately 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Prepare lemon butter cream frosting by beating butter, sugar, salt, lemon juice and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy.

Spread on top of each layer, leaving sides “naked.”

Decorate with additional fresh blueberries, lemon zest, zucchini blossoms, and powdered sugar if desired.

Refrigerate.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

The World is our Oyster

The World is our Oyster

As we grow older,
we sometimes wish
we were that beautiful young girl or boy we see
who looks so “effortlessly” attractive
in their skinny jeans and tank top
with skin that is tight and glowing
and hair that is long and soft and flowing.
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

When we are young,
we often can’t wait
to be those older girls or boys
who are able to choose what they do
and where they go
and make important decisions
and be independent.
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

When we are down or sad
we often think
everyone else
has it better
or easier
or is happier
or is smarter
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

But you know what?

Nothing is really quite like it seems.

Let’s try to own and like
whoever we are
at whatever stage
of life we are at.
Let’s try not to compare
our insides
to others’ outsides.
We are all kind of a mess.
The world is our oyster.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

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