Playing & Creating – Enjoying the Journey

Playing and Creating.

Some leftover paint
mixed up for a pouring project
that I played with on paper
with a goal of creating a wave…

Turned out to look
nothing like a wave,
but so many other things
magically appeared.

I see a bird
and a dolphin
or a crocodile
and a fish.

I feel movement
and life
and freedom
and joy.

Art
imitating
life

While enjoying
the special time
at life in between.

Relaxing
while playing
made something
I would never sell or hang on a wall,

but I created
and learned
how things react
and mix and mingle.

Art – like life –
isn’t always about
the destination –
but about the journey.

Play and create today.
Do something that brings you joy
in that “in between” time you get to call your own,
and enjoy the journey.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Original Watercolors, Acrylic Abstracts, and Handmade Rustic Decor available at McKinneyX2DesignsKlaus the Mouse available on Amazon here.

Baking Lady Locks Cookies

Baking Lady Locks Cookies

We’ve talked about it before…. the Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table.

As we say around here, “It’s a ‘Burgh Thing.”

And no respectable wedding cookie table would be without Lady Locks.

As much as I love baking cookies, I have never truly mastered the esteemed Lady Lock.

But one of my best buddies has….

She baked them for my first son’s wedding, and she baked them for my second son’s wedding.  So when I offered to help bake some cookies for my oldest daughter-in-law’s sister’s upcoming wedding, I asked Tracy if I could pay her to bake some Lady Locks.

Her reply…

“How about I teach you?”

When I told my daughter-in-law we were going to make them this past Sunday, she was so excited.  She had been googling the recipe to give them a try, but was a bit hesitant to tackle these, so she wanted to join in the lady lock baking lesson too.

Now my grandma made these every year for Christmas and for special occassions like family weddings.  I tried her cryptic recipe a few times years ago, but they never came out quite right.  At one point in time I had her special lady lock pins, but somehow they are nowhere to be found.  (I likely tossed them out of frustration after trying several times!)

Fortunately, Tracy still has her grandma’s, which were handed down to her mom and then her.  I found a local store in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, In the Kitchen, that carries them and sells them online for anyone interested in purchasing (which I did).  It’s important you get the correct kind.  Expert old-time bakers were able to make these on clothespins (and some people still call them clothespin cookies), but I can’t even imagine!

Baking these are not for the light of heart or spirit.  Though they are made from just a few simple ingredients you likely have in your pantry, these tasty little buggers are a bit tedious to make.  (Especially when you double the recipe and have a 1-1/2 year-old helping!)

Tracy generously allowed me to share her Mom’s recipe here, which was a COMPLETE success!  (Probably because she did most of the hard work….. after all…. my granddaughter did need to take a few breaks to swing and play in the pool and eat lunch and join Pap Pap for a tractor ride during the 5-hour bake-a-thon!).  Colleen, her mommy, was a trooper rolling and tapping and filling the whole time – even while 8 3/4 months pregnant (this girl never ceases to amaze me!).

We filled half of our 200 lady locks with pink-tinted vanilla filling and the other half with white almond-flavored filling.  They both are melt-in-your-mouth divine.

Here is the recipe.  The best ever, full-proof success lady locks recipe.  Thanks Tracy!

Lady Locks Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 100
  • Print

Cookie Shell Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 cup water

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco
  • 3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned Evaporated Milk
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix flour and butter with pastry blender like when making pie crust to form crumbly mixture.  Stir in water until dough forms.  Shape dough into 2 balls, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Lady Locks Pins by rubbing your hands with Crisco and then rolling the pins in your hands to grease them.  (You only have to do this for the first batch – they will be greased enough after that from each subsequent baking.)

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick on floured surface.  Cut dough into 2″ x 1-1/2″ rectangles.  Wrap each rectangle of dough around Lady Locks Pin pinching edges well to seal.  To do this is a bit tricky.  You must pinch the dough together, then roll it in your hands and/or on a lightly flour-dusted counter (or both!) to get them smooth and even. Then take a butter knife and cut through the center of the dough on the pin to create two evenly-sized pieces – pushing  them apart about 1/8″.  (You will get two cookies from each pin).

Fill a cookie tray or baking stone with dough-wrapped pins about 1/4 inch apart.  Bake approximately 10 minutes until just lightly browned.

When they come out of the oven, you can allow them to cool a minute or so, then you need to tap the ends of the pin on the counter to loosen the baked dough and slide off the pin on the narrowest tapered side.  (It’s a bit like playing hot potato, but necessary to remove the shells from the pins.  Tracy says if you leave them cool too long on the pin, the will likely stick to them and break in the process of removing.)

Once you have baked all of your shells, and they have cooled, prepare the filling.

With an electric mixer, beat the Crisco.  Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and beat again.  Add 1/4 cup canned milk, and beat again.  Add flour.   Beat again.  Add salt.     Beat again.  Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.  Beat again.  Add 1/2 cup canned milk.  Beat again.  Add vanilla (or almond extract).  Beat again.  If you are going to tint your filling, add food color, and beat one final time until incorporated.

Using a pastry tube or decorator with small tip, fill shells with filling.

These cookies freeze well, and actually taste phenomenal straight out of the freezer.

Do you have another favorite Lady Locks recipe?  I’d love to hear how you make them.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Favorite Smells

Favorite Smells.

Dew kissed lilacs, hyacinths, and honeysuckle.
Baking bread, popping popcorn,  and sizzling bacon.
Freshly mown grass, bed sheets hung out to dry, and rain.
Babies’ bellies, toes, and shampooed hair.
Strong coffee, brand new books,  and the salty ocean.

Yesterday I took a little time to “art” on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Drawing and sketching is not my strength at all, but I felt like doing it,
so I sketched a  bottle of my favorite fragrance.

I then splashed on a little water and yellow ochre watercolor paint
as I gear up for World Watercolor Month in July.

Can anyone guess what my favorite fragrance is?

Hope your day is full of favorites.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

#WorldWatercolorMonth

 

Breaking Free

Breaking Free in Blues Abstract 11×14 Arches 140lb Cold Press

Breaking Free.

Three months ago,
when I lost a job I loved
that I thought would be my last,
I was devastated.
I was broken free.

Two months ago,
I started a new job that I now love
and hope will be my last,
and I am so energized.
It is like breaking free.

Over the past few months,
I’ve started exploring new art mediums –
in my “life in between
from watercolor to acrylic to mixed media.
I am breaking free.

This painting,
done over two days this past week
combining these old and new mediums
feels like I am expressing
the elation of breaking free.

And I love it….
The painting….
The joy…
The freedom…
Yes – I’m breaking free!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

This original painting – as well as high quality prints and card sets – is available at our McKinneyX2Designs ETSY Shop!

AND PS  I’m so excited to let you know the Yellow Canary McKinneyX2Designs World Watercolor Month Limited Edition Pouch is NOW AVAILABLE!!!   Here is the link to order yours!  Hope you will help support Dreaming Zebra –  a nonprofit encouraging children to embrace their individuality to express themselves creatively and follow their artistic dreams.  100% of the proceeds for the sale of this Limited Edition Pouch will help provide art and music supplies to underprivileged children throughout the world.

Happy Father’s Day

Father and Daughter and Red Balloon Watercolor 11×14

Happy Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad.
So glad we have the opportunity to make up for lost time.

Happy Father’s Day to my Hubby.
Sharing parenthood with you has been one of my life’s greatest joys.

Happy Father’s Day to my Son.
Watching you be a dad melts my heart.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 I painted this watercolor to create a card for my Dad for Father’s Day.  I wanted to create a feeling with art that represents a bond that can’t be broken.  The bond between a father and daughter.  A representation of the feeling of being Daddy’s little girl – no matter age or time.  Love you Dad. xoxox

World Watercolor Month 2018 – I’m an Artist Ambassador!

World Watercolor Month 2018 – I’m an Artist Ambassador!

My amazing buddy, Charlie O’Shields at Doodlewash is at it again!  He is hosting the annual World Watercolor Month celebration in July, which he created three years ago to inspire people to paint with watercolor while raising awareness for the importance of art and creativity in the world.

Art has brought me so much joy since I discovered watercolor about three years ago that I want to be a part of sharing it, so Charlie honored me with the privilege of being a World Watercolor Month Art Ambassador.

For the month of July, I will be donating $1 from every watercolor sale (originals, prints, greeting cards) from our McKinneyX2Designs ETSY shop to Dreaming Zebra which helps support children in need around the world by providing art supplies and art education.Research has shown that art education has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the learning field across socioeconomic boundaries. Unfortunately, arts education programs are too often the first to be cut when cuts are made, so more and more children each year are missing out on the important benefits of art classes.

The Dreaming Zebra Foundation is unique in that they provide an art recycling program that is free to the public. Reusable art & music supplies that would otherwise be discarded, along with new or unsold materials, are donated by individuals and businesses and matched to recipients who have requested those materials for arts education purposes in communities around the world.

And Charlie chose my Yellow Canary, which I created in honor and memory of a special blogging friend, Terry, as the MX2 watercolor to be put on this year’s limited edition Artist Ambassador zippered pouch souvenier merchandise for World Watercolor Month 2018.  100% of the proceeds from the purchase of these zippered pouches will go to the Dreaming Zebra Foundation!

To learn more about World Watercolor Month, click here.

I’ll be sharing more in July, which is only 17 days away – can you believe it?!  Hope you will join us in the fun!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

#WorldWatercolorMonth

What is the Answer?

Foggy Morning – Mars, PA – June 2018

What is the answer?

What are the questions?

Why is it happening?

What can we do?

The recent suicides of two very famous people last week – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain  – have brought back a lot of memories for me and have had me thinking a lot.

Those of you who have been around here for a while may recall I lost my brother to suicide a year and a half ago.  He took his life two days after Christmas on December 27, 2016 by stepping in front of a train.  He left a note stating “no Clarence for me.”

There are moments – some clumped together in periods longer than others – that I dwell in the sorrow.

I want to have some magical answer…. some greatly insightful advice.

I don’t want to just talk about it.  I don’t want to just be sad.  I want to declare the solution.  I want to shout out the answer.  I want to rid the world of this grief.

But I can’t find it.

Except to say let’s love one another.

Let’s be there for one another.

Let’s hug.

Let’s listen.

Let’s support each other.

Let’s hold each other up… allow others to lean on us, and allow ourselves to lean on others.

Let’s embrace our humanity.

Let’s accept each other.

Let’s accept ourselves.

Let’s belong to each other and to this world.

We are each here for a purpose.

Let us seek and declare and own that.

You are loved.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Love,
Jodi

A Blue Pineapple for a Baby Girl Nursery

Blue Pineapple Watercolor 11X14

A Blue Pineapple for a Baby Girl Nursery.

I had a commissioned request to do a turquoisey-blue pineapple to go with a pink flamingo for a baby girl’s nursery.

Pink Flamingo Watercolor 11×14

Sweet new mommy-to-be, Sarah, reached out to me through our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop and asked if I could do my pineapple in blues and paint her an original pink flamingo – with a couple dabs of gold in each if possible.

I have been having so much fun pouring acrylic abstracts lately, it was a mind-shift to gently and neatly “splash” in watercolor, but it came back like riding a bike, and I truly enjoyed creating these original pieces in 11×14 for a sweet baby girl’s nursery.

I love the fun, creative ways new parents are decorating nurseries now, and this nursery is sure to be adorable.

Wishing you a day that is colored with turquoisey-blue pineapples, bright pink flamingoes, and dabs of gold!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Berry Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Berry Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing.

Want to really make a statement and add a kick to your next fruit salad?

Mix strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and red raspberries in a bowl.

Add the zest and juice of one ripe lime and drizzle with 2-3 Tbsp of honey.

Stir berry gently, and enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi