Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

The wedding cookie table baking continues with another classic.

Most everyone loves a little cookie cup with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in it – right?

So many wonderful little treats you can bake in mini muffin pans!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. milk or half & half
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 70-80 miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream together butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Mix in salt and baking soda, and finally flour just until incorporated.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place in ungreased nonstick mini muffin pan.  Bake 7-8 minutes.

Remove from oven, and immediately press a miniature Reese’s peanut butter cup into each ball.  Cool  and carefully remove from pan.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Painting Purple Posies

Purple Crocus Spring Watercolor 10x14" 300 lb Arches Cold Press

Purple Crocus Spring Watercolor 10×14″ 300 lb Arches Cold Press

Painting Purple Posies.

Though I could never create the beauty Mother Nature does…

especially in Spring when the purple crocuses pop up and  remind us once again of the hope of life and rebirth and renewal…

I couldn’t resist painting my impression of these beauties I captured and posted yesterday.

It was good to splash some Winsor Violet and Opera Rose and Prussian Blue and Cadmium Yellow with a touch of Perylene Green.

And instead of trying to recreate them, my goal was to paint how they made me feel.

I struggle with stopping here or filling in the details to make them look more realistic.  But ultimately, my love for impressionistic painting wins, and I stopped.

Before I ever ventured into this amazing joy of painting, I would have thought this way easier than exactly duplicating or painting more realistic representations, but the urge to “fiddle” and “replicate” typically leaves me feeling less satisfied.

To restrain….

To stop “before…”

To leave a bit – even if only a teensy bit – to the imagination…

is a challenge…

But a crazy and totally fulfilling, joyful experience when it works.

Not convinced I hit it with this one, but the joy  in the journey might just be as satisfying as the ultimate goal.

Kinda like life – huh?

It’s a journey – meant to be embraced and expressed and felt – all along the way.

Once we reach the destination – then what?

Cheers  & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Spring Surprises Popping Up

Spring Surprises Popping Up.

Is anything more beautiful
that the bright pops of purple and yellow
that come in the Spring to brighten the brown and gray
and highlight the fresh new green?

Especially in unexpected places
on unexpected adventures
with people you love
on Sunday “rides.”

Spring is popping up.
Smell the air.
Listen to the sounds.
Look for the beauty!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

It Is Easy Being Green

A “New” Easel for My Art Studio

A “New” Easel for My Art Studio.

Yesterday, I was gifted with something very special for my new art studio.

As many of you may recall, my brother passed away two days after Christmas – just a few months ago.  He sadly took his own life.  He was a troubled man who struggled with alcoholism, but was once a bright, highly intelligent boy and handsome young man who lost his way due to the disease that took over his life.

I came to find out he went through a period where he had a passion for art and tried his hand at painting.  Though I have not seen any of the work he did, his friend generously offered his art easel to me as a small remembrance of him.

And so I placed it next to my current one hubby bought me when I decided I wanted to try my hand at painting almost two years ago.  He has been so supportive and encouraging, and even made me a room (though he will tell it much less romantically stating he was tired of my art stuff all over the house!).

How couldn’t one enjoy and feel loved spending time in a room made for me by my hubby and with so many beautiful things from so many wonderful friends and family members.

And now this special remembrance.

Finding joy in the ordinary

Cherishing the moments

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

To see some of my artwork (as well as my daughter-in-laws beautiful rustic hand-painted signs) for sale, feel free to visit us at McKinneyX2Designs on Etsy.

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies.

I tried a new cookie recipe this weekend to add to the wedding cookie table.

And OMG – if you ever dreamed you could have your cake and eat it in a cookie too – well – your dream has come true with this recipe.  Seriously… carrot cake delightfulness in a cookie!

The frosting filling alone…… well…. all I can say is it makes me think of what a cloud might taste like in heaven….  sweet creamy, buttery, cream cheesey delight with a swirl of apricot.  Can you even imagine?!

A nutty, crunchy, shortbread-like cookie with a delightful apricot cream cheese filling.  If you are looking for a beautiful, sweet treat for a special occasion like perhaps – a wedding cookie table – these lovely little morsels are just the ticket!

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks butter, melted, plus 2 sticks, room temperature, for frosting
  • 1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 6 tsp. apricot jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat melted butter, sugars, and egg yolks until light and creamy.  Blend in ginger, cinnamon, and salt.  gradually beat in flour.  Mix in oats, carrots, and chopped apricots or raisins.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Roll into chopped nuts.  Place on baking stone or cookie sheet, and bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven, and quickly press an indentation into center of each cookie ball.  Return to oven and bake for 8 more minutes until lightly golden brown.

Transfer to a cooking rack and cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat remaining 2 sticks of softened butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in cream cheese.  Gently swirl in apricot jam.

Place frosting in large Ziploc bag.  Snip corner and pipe into each cooled cookie.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Adapted from Martha Stewart

 

The Secret of Life

The Secret of Life.

Do you ever think….
“What’s it all about?”
Life – that is…
Why are we here?
What is our purpose?

My BFF, Jill, and I have asked each other this so many times throughout the almost 30  years of our friendship, I couldn’t even count the number.

It’s become a bit of a joke, but also a bit of a reminder too.

When we first met, we were young “stay at home moms.”  And (sadly), those ones who judged working moms as lesser than we who cared for our children and homes and served on the PTA and were the best-ever “homeroom moms” who created the field day obstacle course that all other homeroom moms envied.

Sigh….

We now mock, but also guiltily regret, our young naive selves, as we have become those crazy workaholic successful business women we once despised.  And we both have the absolutely most amazing daughters (mine is a daughter-in-law, but I love her like a daughter) who are beautiful, successful working women and amazing, loving mothers.

And you know what?  No judging…  No mocking…

Life is too short for all of that!

We all do what is right for each of us.
And our children.
And our families.
Period.

And what have I learned along the way?

The secret of life is finding the JOY in the ordinary!

There are so many moments in the ordinary days of living that bring us joy…
that bring us contentment…
that make the ordinary – well – EXTRAordinary.

Like marriage.

Hubby and I have been married for 35 years!  And you know what?  I am proud of that!

I was 19 years old and he was 23 when we married.  I had no idea what life was all about.

But that same cute Hubby was on a business trip this past week and away for three nights.

He rarely travels.

In fact, I have been the one to travel many, many more times for work than him as the years have passed.

And though I was not “afraid of the dark” and the “bogey man” like I was when I was young and he went away (and that same wonderful best friend and her hubby and family actually stayed at my house with me when same hubby went away), it just wasn’t “right” without him here.

Sometimes an evening goes by with barely 50 words spoken between us.  But we are together.  He is here, and I am here, and we are together.

And sometimes that is enough.

I now wonder why we all cannot see, and wish I could share with so many who strive for and desire so much more and cannot find it, that it is okay.  In fact… it is more than okay.  It is the secret of life….

The secret of a joy-filled life….

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the “ordinary.”  The ordinary is a blessing.

The secret of life?
Finding joy in the ordinary!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  My same sweet, wonderful daughter-in-law painted the gorgeous sign pictured here  that is available in our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy Shop.  She gets it!  And I am so proud of her I could burst!  

And when Hubby came home from his business trip Friday afternoon, what did he find?

… a perfectly content wife/mom/grandma/business woman (with a nasty Spring head cold and not looking her best – to say the least) sound asleep with the most beautiful  granddaughter on her chest and a half-read book.  That is joy.  That is ordinary.  That is joy in the ordinary.

 

Jodi’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jodi’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Wedding cookie baking continues; and I think if my son Nick had his way, the wedding cookie table would be completely covered with chocolate chip cookies.

I often vary this basic chocolate chip cookie recipe up by substituting a portion of the chocolate chips with dried tart cherries (Nick’s current fave) or half the chocolate chips with peanut butter chips, or making them with white chocolate chips and dried blueberries, or half chocolate chips and half chopped Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, but this is my classic, stand-by best ever chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I made three batches for the upcoming wedding.

A couple tips for those that ask how I make these: always refrigerate the dough for at least a few hours before baking, roll dough into large balls, bake on baking stones (no greater investment for baking!), electric convection ovens are the best for baking cookies.

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

4 sticks (1 lb.) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 cups all purpose flour
2 12-oz bags Nestle Chocolate Chunk Morsels (or your favorite)

Directions:

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until light and fluffy. Add baking soda and salt, and mix another minute. Gradually add flour and beat until well incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Fold in chocolate chunk morsels.  Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With your hands, form a cookie dough ball about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.  Place on baking stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on baking stone for 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

March Madness Ambiguity

Earth, Light, & Wind Abstract Brusho Watercolor

Earth, Light, & Wind Abstract Brusho Watercolor

Like the ambiguity of the weather in March,
do you ever wonder why…

there is no ham in hamburger,
or no egg in eggplant?

Do you ever wonder why…

Chili is hot
and being hot is cool?

and if we say, “She sees a lot,”
does she see much or a piece of land?

Have you considered why…

when the stars come out, they are visible,
but when we turn the lights out, they are invisible?

The ambiguity of this existence
we call life.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Abstract Watercolor done with Brusho Crystal Colours:  Earth, Light & Wind

 

Just when…

Just when you think you are over
the hurt, the sadness, the loss…

something happens.

It can be something
lovely and loving and special,

but still it is a reminder.

Sometimes a loss is a choice…
a deliberate decision

that has to be made to preserve your soul.

And your soul  is worth it,
so save it

and cherish the moments you are given.

 

Hugs,
Jodi