A Bright Poinsettia

Bright Poinsettia 11×14 Original Watercolor

A Bright Poinsettia.

I so enjoyed painting this bright and happy poinsettia recently.
(And it’s nice to think bright and happy thoughts with all the dark and sad news of the past few days.)

Using my dagger brush (which I need to use more often),  it was fun to just let this painting evolve and happen on the paper.  The dagger brush is “floppy” and loose, yet also allows for wonderful control changing wide strokes to points.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out!  It actually makes me smile to look at.

I’m also thrilled that my new printer is able to produce gorgeous 11×14 prints that look so much like the original, so this option will be added to my paintings in our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop.  I also added this design to the Society6 shop, so it can be made into pillows and mugs and other fun stuff.

Wishing you a bright and happy day!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Only 55 days until Christmas  😉   and only 2 1/2 weeks until the big Mars Craft Show  (Saturday, 11/17/18) AND Christmas in the Woods at Berry Vine Gifts (11/16-18/18)

Believe


Believe.

Believe in yourself.
Believe in your purpose.
Don’t be afraid – just believe.

Believe you can do it.
Believe you deserve it.
Don’t be afraid – just believe.

Believe you are strong.
Believe you are brave.
Don’t be afraid – just believe.

And when you believe,
you just may be
the reason someone else believes.

Don’t be afraid – just believe.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

I am so excited my DIL is back to making beautiful signs for our ETSY shop!  This little gem is one of my new faves.  It will be sweet for Christmas, but I “believe” I would like this out year round.  It’s a tiny reminder, which I often need… to not be afraid, and just believe.

Tedrick the Teddy Bear

Tedrick the Teddy Bear Christmas Watercolor -11×14

Tedrick the Teddy Bear.

Loosely splashing,
I set out to create.

A brown bear, I thought,
was what I would make.

But, as so often happens,
my heart took over

And decided to speak
through my hands.

Looking me in the eyes,
what appeared instead,

and begging me to
bring him to life,

was a teddy bear.

So I named him Tedrick.

I looked at him
and smiled.

And I thanked him
for showing himself to me.

From my heart to yours….

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

A Merry Grinchmas Celebration

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Merry Grinchmas Celebration.

As I sit by the fire late Christmas evening – basking in the warmth and glow of a wonderful Christmas holiday spent over the past week or so with many of those I love most, I feel so grateful.  The house is quiet, except for the dishwasher running, the fire crackling, and a holiday movie playing in the background.

I’m feeling peaceful and content.

There is nothing like the excitement leading up to Christmas, and I loved hosting three dinner parties three days in a row (and that’s not counting one the weekend before).  But there is also something very special too about the days that follow Christmas….

The calm afterglow…  The snuggling in…  The nesting…  Looking at pictures… Smiling at the memories.

Movies, books, leftovers, jammies…

Today, I want to share a fun party we had this past Saturday, the eve of Christmas eve, with our McHendy family.

My bestie, Jill and I decided we wanted to surprise our families with a theme, so we created a McHendy Grinchmas Celebration.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Happy Whoville feast –

complete with Roast Beast (Beef Tenderloin),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comWho Mash (Mashed Potatoes),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Greens (Sauteed Fresh Green Beans with garlic),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand Cindy Lou Who Salad (Crisp Greens, Tart Pomegranate Seeds, Crunchy Pecans, and Creamy Goat Cheese).

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThis feast was preceded by some fun appetizers earlier in the day, including Grinchy Green Deviled Eggs,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Santa Hats,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand a Tortilla Wrap Christmas Tree.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd it was followed by a tiered tray of Grinchmas Cookies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand plenty of other sweet treats.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comEach guest received a little favor bucket that included a green ornament with a tiny red heart and lime green and red candies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comas well as a Grinch beanie hat (which we all wore for a fun family photo – with the exception of hubby who wore a full furry Grinch onesie!)

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThe games planned took a different twist than intended, but ended up being just as fun!

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThere were sleigh rides and races,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comI Spy the Who Hash,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand boxed games around the cleared dinner table.


Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGuests of honor

adorned the powder room and office doors.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd as we ate and played and talked and laughed and cried, we celebrated being family in every true, authentic sense of the word.  And we reminded ourselves that “Merry Christmas doesn’t come from the store.  Maybe Christmas perhaps is a little bit more.”

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comCheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Charlie’s Night Before Christmas

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  Charlie wanted in on the action too, so here is his Night Before Christmas post from last year:

Charlie’s Night Before Christmas

charlie-christmas-2016

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, except a brown dog.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
and Charlie couldn’t reach them – he didn’t even dare.

Mom and Dad were nestled all snug in their bed,
while visions of head cold relief danced in their heads.
But Charlie was anxious, he just couldn’t sleep.
He wondered if Santa would bring him a treat.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Charlie ran to his door to see what was the matter.
He flew out onto the porch and skidded across
Woofing and sniffing even every piece of  moss.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
made it a bit easier for Charlie to see all below.
When what to his wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

“It was SANTA – Oh Santa!  You’re coming to my house.
I knew you would remember – I’ve been a good boy!”
Charlie ran back inside and jumped into bed,
he climbed under the blankets to cover his head.

He quietly waited and listened intently,
but he waited so long, he fell back asleep.
The next thing he knew, Dad was getting out of bed.
Mom gave him a pat, and said “Okay – Go Ahead!”

His stocking was full!  Santa really was here!
A new donut, a new donkey, and a tasty new bone.
Another Christmas miracle
for an adopted brown dog.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Woofs & Wags,
Charlie

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.

Apricot Kolaches

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without baking Grandma’s Apricot Kolaches.  This year, I made them for our annual cookie exchange party.  Do you have classic cookie recipes you must make every year?

Apricot Kolaches & Christmas Cookie Baking

I finally got around to some Christmas cookie baking this weekend, and the highlight for my gang is the Apricot Kolaches.

apricot kolaches

Mine are not quite as perfect and beautiful as Grandma used to make, but they are getting thumbs ups around here.  Apricot Kolaches are a traditional Polish tender cream cheese pastry cookie with a sweet-tart apricot filling.  Grandma was 100% Polish, and her cooking and baking were like none other!

apricot kolaches 3

I remember Grandma painstakingly measuring each 2 inch by 2 inch square so that every singly one looked exactly the same.  I don’t have nearly the patience, but I smile remembering those days in the kitchen with her.  I can also now relate to the aching back and feet she had at the end of the day after rolling, cutting, filling, folding, baking, cooling, packing up…  And I wish I had a young Jodi to rub my feet and massage my legs with Jergen’s cherry almond lotion like I did for Grandma in the evening after an all-day baking session.

apricot kolaches 2

But the joy on Marty’s and Nick’s faces and the “Mmmmm’s” that escape their lips between bites make it all worth it!

(and then I have to hurry up and freeze some or they would be gone quicker than it takes me to clean up the dishes!)

I also made some of my Jodi’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies – a perennial favorite around here…

chocolate chip christmas cookies

…as well as some with dried blueberries and white chocolate chips using the same recipe (another of Marty’s faves).

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without some Peanut Butter Blossoms…

peanut butter cup cookies

And gotta have some Pittsburgh Thumbprint cookies too.  I made a batch with chocolate fudge and another with colorful sprinkles and green icing centers.

chocolate pittsburgh thumbprints

Here is the recipe I use for the Apricot Kolaches.

(The Chocolate Chips and Pittsburgh Thumbprints can be found by following the links to previous posts.)

apricot kolache making

APRICOT KOLACHES

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves or apricot filling (I use Baker’s)
1 Egg, beaten
Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar, for dusting

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed of stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Turn mixer on low, and gradually mix in the flour until a smooth dough forms.

Knead dough on lightly floured work surface, and gently form a ball.  Divide dough into fourths, flatten, and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet or baking stone with parchment paper.  Working with one piece of dough at a time (after bringing back to room temperature from refrigeration), roll out to approximately 1/8 inch thick rectangle.  Trim edges and cut dough into 2 inch squares.

Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of apricot filling into the center of each square.

Fold one corner into the center, dab with the beaten egg, then bring the opposite corner into the center and press firmly to seal.

Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 10 minutes.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cool on wire rack.

These cookies freeze well, and thaw quickly.

This recipe makes about a million ….  or at least feels like it when you are making them!  🙂
I hope you and your family will try these and enjoy them as much as we do.

Cheers & Sweet Hugs,
Jodi

My Revised Holiday To Do List

This week leading up to Christmas, I am going to share a few of my favorite posts from the past starting with this one I have shared every December since 2014 when I started this blog.  It’s a classic list that I need to remind myself about this time of year.  Maybe you do too, so here it is:

My Revised Holiday To Do List

What are you up to this weekend?  Do you have a crazy, long, exhausting “To Do” list for getting ready for the holidays?

I recently saw a great revised list on Instagram… and it really made me think.   So I got to working on re-setting some of my own priorities.

Christmas to do list 2014

#1:  Do you have a lot of presents left to buy?  I do!  But I’m not going to worry about it.  If it gets down to the wire, I’ll just give gift cards or money.  I think my kids like that best anyway.

And when I receive a text from my cousin’s six-year old daughter like I did earlier this week that says:

I have a concert on Saturday December 13.  Can you be there?  I don’t know what time

Well – you can bet I’ll be there.  Those kind of invites are too precious to pass up!

#2:  Do you still have wrapping to do?  Remember there are always gift bags.  Instead, make sure you wrap everyone you love with lots of warm hugs.  And my little twist is to always try to be the last to let go….  You never know when you might get the chance again or how much that person needs it at that moment.

#3:  I still haven’t sent my cards out.  And you know I’m a card making fool!  Much more fun creating them than addressing and stuffing and licking envelopes, so whatever ones I do get out, I do – and it will be sent with all the love and time I put into it.  But if I don’t get them out, or even mail them after the holidays – that’s ok – right?!  No crime!  I want to make sure I’m sending love, not just a card for a card’s sake.

#4:  I’ve got lots of food shopping to do – and no worries – the stores are open 24 hours, so I will eventually get there.  What I do want to make sure we do is donate food to those in need.

#5:  I love to make cookies – and it is a rare occasion that we don’t have a homemade cookie in the house to munch on or offer a guest – but guess what?  No Christmas cookies baked yet.  I’ll get to some I’m sure.  What is more important is making time for people – like the little cutie we’re going to go listen to sing on Saturday or the chocolate-making class I went to last night with my daughter-in-law.  Sure – I could be baking, but I first want to make time for those I love.

#6:  I adore seeing all the Christmas lights, and Marty and I sure had fun at Kennywood’s Festival of Lights, but what is more important is that I make time to BE that light.

#7:  And Parties….. I kinda live for hosting parties.  We are hosting four in a row from Christmas Eve until Saturday 12/27, and then again on New Year’s Eve.  YIPPEE!  Am I stressing over it?!  NOPE!  Will I fuss?  Probably not so much.  Or maybe a little – if I have time.  But if I don’t — – not gonna worry!  As long as the people show up, we have something to eat and drink, and there is lots of love and laughing – then the party is a success!  Right?

Christmas to do list revised 2014

So check your list.  Does it need a little tweaking?  A couple of revisions?  Make sure you are cherishing each moment along the way.

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies.

So the thing about Christmas cookies is that it’s fun to make them fancy.

Well – sometimes fancy might mean taking a usual cookie (like my “Jodi’s Best Ever  Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and using Dark Chocolate M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (DARK Chocolate M&Ms is the key here! They are insanely delicious!), and then dunking them in some more dark chocolate….

…. but only half way….

to be fancy!

They are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

You can make these by simply following my tried and true recipe here and substituting Dark Chocolate M&Ms or your favorite Maybe you want to use chopped up Butterfingers or Snickers or Milky Way candies or maybe even peppermint sticks.

Go wild.  Get fancy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi