Look Inside

February Morning – Mars, PA 2018

Look Inside.

The tiniest drop of water
hanging on the edge of the limb

that might not last
longer than a few moments

holds a glimpse of life.

It tells a story.

Look inside.
Ignore the blurred surroundings.

Squint hard.
Look closely.

Search deep

into this beautiful thing.

Search deep…
inside of You.

Like the tiny drop of water
that reflects the trees trunk and limbs.

Look inside your heart

to see what branches inside of you.

What is growing and stretching
and feeding your soul.

What is reaching
to grasp your happiness.

Look inside

at the beauty of you.

Cheers & Hugs,

Live the Questions Now

Live the Questions Now Rilke Quote – Abstract Circle Watercolor 11×14

Live the Questions Now.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love
the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
that are now written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you
because you would not
be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then
without noticing it,
along some distant day

― Rainer Maria Rilke


One evening I just felt like painting watercolor in a circle wet in wet to create a fun kaleidoscope effect.  After doing the negative painting I shared last week, I wanted to paint “inside the lines” this time.

And then I heard this quote (which just so happened to be shared by Lendon Noe in that class I spoke about in Sunday’s post), and I had to write it around the circle.

Live the Questions Now.

Don’t live your life waiting for the answers.
There is so much that you will miss.

Live everything every day,
and then, along the way,
you will likely live the answer.

Cheers & Hugs,

Daniel Smith Watercolors Used:  Cascade Green, Mayan Red, Quinacridone Gold

Fresh Blueberry Scones

Fresh Blueberry Scones.

I had a friend come over Saturday morning.

HOORAY!  Excuse to bake something yummy.

I surely couldn’t know someone is coming and not have something freshly baked to share if I could help it.  Right?

Surprise visitors might not be as lucky – but are equally welcomed!   (They may just have to look beyond my make-up-less face, a potentially less than clean house, and deal with frozen cookies.)

It was so good to catch up with this friend I haven’t seen in a while – munching on these tender, buttery, lightly sweet biscuits bursting with tart blueberries and sipping on Cinnamon Dolce coffee with Italian Sweet Cream.

Sometimes it takes a guest to make us sit back and relax and truly appreciate our home.  My friend asked me how I ever get anything done with the beautiful view and comfy surroundings?

It made me think….

I need to quit apologizing for the carpet that needs replaced or the walls that need a fresh coat of paint or the old “stuff” I have.

The greatest compliment I receive is when someone tells me they feel completely comfortable and relaxed and welcome in my home.

Isn’t that what makes a house a home?   I have two signs in my home (one I bought and one made for me by my BFF who didn’t know I had bought the same sign!) that say “The thing I love best about my home is who I share it with.”

That could not be truer for me.  A house is made of wood and nails, but a home is made with love and family and friends.

And maybe fresh Blueberry Scones!

Here’s my recipe.

Fresh Blueberry Scones


2 1/2  Cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 Sticks Cold Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Buttermilk (easy substitute is 1Tbsp white vinegar added to 1 cup milk)
1 cup Blueberries
Coarse Raw Sugar for Sprinkling


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Cut butter into small cubes and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs are formed.  Pour in vanilla and buttermilk, and mix with pastry blender just until incorporated.  Dump dough onto counter, gently incorporate blueberries into dough, and gently shape into a 15″ x 3″ rectangle.  Cut dough in half, then each half in half, then each quarter in half, so that you have 8 rectangles.  Cut each rectangle on the diagonal to form 16 triangular shaped scones.

Place on backing stone or cookie sheet, brush with some milk or water, and sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes on stone or cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.


Cheers & Hugs,

Inspired by Lives and Letters

Inspired by Lives and Letters.

I am taking my second-ever online art class.  I was so blown away by the first one I took a few months ago, that when I learned the same artist, Lendon Noe was doing another, I had to join in again.

The class is hosted by another wonderfully-talented artist, Carla Sonheim, who hosts a variety of online art classes.

Lendon (I just love her name, by the way, and especially when she says it with her adorable southern accent) is a mixed media artist, and I have learned so many different techniques and ways to really stretch my artistic talent and creative brain from her.

This class is especially poignant, because it is not just about art for the sake of art, but it is about our art telling a story.

It is about creating art that “communicates.”

It is about  being inspired by the lives of those who are important to us and the letters they have written.

We’ve done some fun things with dying tissue paper and creating plaster pieces (which I’ve shared in some photos here) and then put them together in a way that creates a dialogue (at least to us in some personal way).

We then were tasked with searching for some letters that were important to us.  Lendon has some beautiful letters written by her father to his mother and brother while he was serving in World War II.

Though I don’t have anything that wonderfully poignant, I was able to dig deep into my cedar chest – the same cedar chest Hubby made for me when we were engaged – my “hope chest” that still sits in our bedroom almost 36 years later – and found the very first note he ever wrote to me (one he left on my car at work with a rose asking me out on a first date before he even knew how to spell my name) and another poem he wrote to me 10 days before our wedding.

It might not look like much to you, but I was so excited to give it to Hubby as a gift that I framed it and wrapped it and presented it to him one ordinary day last week.

If you are wondering what the Bingo references are all about, you can read about the beginning of our story here.

Thank you my sweet art and blogging friend Jill Kuhn at Jill’s Art Journal for nudging me into this class.  I am truly Inspired by Lives and Letters.

Cheers & Hugs,

Chocolate Chip & Dried Tart Cherry Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Dried Tart Cherry Cookies.

I have shared many versions of cookies here at The CreativeLifeinBetween.

In fact, in some homes (very few indeed), I am known as the Cookie Queen.

And it seems no matter what kind I make, the all-time favorite is the Chocolate Chip Cookie.

I often change it up a little, but when I add dried tart cherries, I know I am going to make at least one guy smile ( who happens to be my youngest son).

So this week, I made a batch that I hope will bring a smile to our busy family as we prepare for exciting days and years ahead.

New homes – growing families – lots of love.

Here is how I make them.

Chocolate Chip and Dried Tart Cherry Cookies


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
1 12-oz bags Nestle Chocolate Chunk Morsels (or your favorite)
8-oz  Dried Tart Cherries (I used Trader Joe’s)


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 and dried cherries.  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 5-6 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.


Cheers  & Hugs,

In Search of the Little Things

Daffodils Popping out of the Ground - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Daffodils Popping out of the Ground – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

In Search of the Little Things.

Sometimes we need to get down low,

Forsythia Buds on Branches - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Forsythia Buds on Branches – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or look extra closely,

Grape Hyacinths Emerging - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Grape Hyacinths Emerging – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or push some other things out of the way,

Bleeding Hearts Emerging - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Bleeding Hearts Emerging – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or look for tiny changes.

Irises surfacing - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Irises surfacing – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

The little things are there…
Little signs of change…
Little hints of what is about to happen.

As I walked around the yard late yesterday afternoon in bare feet on a record-breaking warm day for February in our area (we hit 80 degrees F!), I searched for little things.  I searched for tiny changes. I searched for little hints of Spring.

And they were everywhere!  Daffodils and hyacinths and irises popping through the earth.  Buds developing on forsythia branches.  Intricate formations of future bleeding hearts.

And it made me think…
On a topic that has not left my mind or my heart…

The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida last week where a 19 year old boy/man killed 17 innocent children at school.

As the days pass, details are being revealed.
Little hints of issues.
Little signs of change.

Didn’t anyone notice?
Wasn’t anyone paying attention?

Why was this troubled young man able to purchase military grade assault weapons?
For that matter – why is any civilian legally able to purchase military grade assault weapons?
That is certainly one important issue I feel needs addressed.

But we must also be diligent.
We must also be watching.
We must be paying attention
to our children.

We must be searching for and noticing the little things…
The little changes, the hints, the signs
happening with our children…

Before it is too late.

It is up to us.


Iris I Could…

Blue Iris in Cascade Green Negative Watercolor 11x14

Blue Iris in Cascade Green Negative Watercolor 11×14

Iris I Could…

Iris I could make one unhappy person smile today.
Iris I could remember punch lines to jokes to make one person laugh today.

Iris I could wave a magic wand that sprinkled happiness and joy.
Iris life was easier.

Iris each one reading this
finds one small moment to cherish today.

Iris you found humor and a bit of light-heartedness
in my silly pun.

Life can be difficult,
and we must help each other get through.


I painted this Iris this weekend.
It was my fifth try!
I was trying to use a negative watercolor painting technique,
and I just had to use this amazing new color a friend here at TheCreativeLifeinBetween told me about – Daniel Smith Cascade Green.

I struggle with this technique, but I so wanted to create a background with this green color that fades and granulates into the most amazing blue with more water.  The green (and light blue) all around the iris are from that one color.  I splashed in a little new gamboge and a drop or two of orange and ultramarine to tie the background colors into the flower, but the background is mostly this mesmerizing cascade green.

The technique involves painting the background first around the shape of the object – creating the negative white space, where you then paint the object.  This is where I kept getting thrown off.  I’m not good at having outside lines to stay within!

Thanks to my friend, Dena, who visits here often and leaves such lovely comments, for this color recommendation.  I love when other artists or photographers or bakers or writers share tips and tools of the trade.

Iris you a wonderful day.

Cheers & Hugs,

My original painting is for sale at our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop.  It is also available in prints and greeting cards.

Happy Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog: A Charlie Guest Post

Charlie celebrating The Year of The Dog 2/16/18 with a delicious bone

Happy Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog:  A Charlie Guest Post.

Hi Friends!  It’s your buddy Charlie here to wish you Happy New Year!
Chinese New Year that is.  And OH What a YEAR it is!

It is the YEAR of the DOG!
What could be better?!

Chinese New Year officially started on Friday, February 16th, but Mom and I were off on Friday.

Luckily Chinese New Year is typically celebrated for about two weeks, so it is not too late to join in on the party.

And this is a very special Year of the Dog.
It is the Year of the Earth Dog.
And it is the first one since 1958*.

Earth energy is all about getting grounded, creating security, and finding your balance as you move forward*.

People born in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are also known as Dogs.

And guess what?!

Dad was born in 1958, so he is a Dog too!  WOOOHOOO!
(Mom is a Tiger – Roar!)

Mom and I did some internet research, and guess what else?
This story just keeps getting better and better.

Dogs are most compatible with rabbits, TIGERs, and horses.
Dogs are often pessimistic and need a Tiger’s reassurance.
Tigers also need a Dog’s loyalty.

(Sounds like Mom and Dad are a match made in “Chinese New Year” heaven!)

So Happy New Year from our family – two Dogs and one Tiger – to yours!

Woofs & Wags,

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, 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.

I Need to at Least do Something

I Need to at Least do Something.

Like so many
of you
my heart
has been heavy.

Heavy with grief
for the families
who have
lost a child.

A child whose life
was stolen
from the devastating act of violence
that has so sadly become commonplace.

A life
taken away
in the blink of a moment…
in the shot of a gun.

An innocent young life
with a future stolen
in an event that has become
too commonplace.

A young person
of the privilege
of growing old.

A mother’s heart shattered,
A fathers’ soul shook,
A grandparent
left horrified.

What can we do?

We all ask the question.

So let’s make it our goal –
our contribution
to life…
our demonstration of love.

Let’s do
at least
small thing.

Maybe a hug
or maybe
a shared

of how
it felt
to be
that one.

I once was
that one –
without a friend.

But I

And there
is so much
to life

Once we
get through
those difficult

we think
it is all
that matters.

Let’s tell
our stories.
Let’s share
our anguish.

And then
let’s share our joy.
Let’s share
our happiness.

Life is
so much more
than a
teenager believes.

They just
don’t know it
at the

But we can tell  them
there is hope
and there
is a future

more matters
than what
a friend thinks.

Let’s teach
our children
the value
of life.

Let’s teach
our children
they are worthy
of love.

Is it enough?
I really don’t know.
But it is something
I can do.

And I need
to do something.
I need to at least
do something.



Orange – again and again and again

Loose Orange Floral Watercolor in Bowl – 11×14

Orange – again and again and again.

So it turns out orange is the favorite color of two favorite people I know who are getting married this summer.

So I’ve been playing around with painting some orange flowers that could or maybe not be backgrounds or parts of a wedding invitation.

The first painting was a super fun tutorial by another favorite of mine:  Andrew Geeson.  He did his in pinks and reds, but I did oranges.

This middle one was just pure fun and joy.  Something that could be covered up partially with a piece of paper square in the middle or on a diagonal with wedding detail/information on.

Bright Orange Abstract Tulip Background Watercolor 7 x 11

This last one is kind of my favorite.  I feel like I just got lucky with how it turned out, and it is actually on the back of another practice piece, but I thought it might be beautiful with words written on it as an invitation.

Soft Abstract Orange Flower Watercolor 7 x 10.5

Just some fun experiments with the joyful color of ORANGE!

Have a great day!

Cheers & Hugs,