Fancy Sprinkles

Fancy Sprinkles.

I’ve mentioned before...  I kinda have a “thing” for sprinkles.

Well… what a SWEET surprise I came home to yesterday after an especially long day at the office to find a glittery, sparkly package in the mail pile with a sweet note from my bestie!

She has a knack for always knowing the right timing and just the right thing!

I’ve recently had a couple cookie fails in my attempts to try “something new” for Christmas cookies.

UGH!

Yep – happens to all of us I guess.

One was with a “best ever” sugar cookie recipe a baking blogger claimed to have refined after many attempts to create the absolute best.

Well…. NOT!  At least for me.  I knew when I made the dough, it wasn’t right….

Take it from someone who bakes cookies almost every week.  You get a “feel” for it.

I told hubby the dough felt dry, and I didn’t think they were going to turn out.

I baked a batch, and yep…. DRY!  (Though hubby didn’t seem to mind spreading jam on them like biscuits and enjoying them.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to make sugar cut-out cookies.  Anybody else have a “best ever” recipe I should try?

So even though it was late, I just couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of Sprinkle Cookies from a recipe I knew was yummy with these special Fancy Sprinkles.

I made one batch with the beautiful blue and white “Frostbite” sprinkles that had  hearts and stars and pearls and blue metallic balls and another batch with the adorable red, brown, and white “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” sprinkles – complete with tiny gingerbread men and mini marshmallows!

And, ironically, earlier in the day, a coworker and I laughed about the love her 6-year old son has for sprinkles and how he chose the “sprinkliest” cake he could find for his “second” birthday cake this year.

If you’d like my recipe for Sprinkle Cookies, just click here.  They are fun and festive and delicious!  I added just a smidge less flour to this batch and flattened the dough balls just a bit before baking to make this batch a little chewier.   I like how they turned out.  You can always adjust the amount of flour a bit to make your cookies flatter or thicker.

Thanks for sprinkling me with your friendship and love, Jill!

Happy holiday baking friends!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Easy DIY Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar


Easy DIY “Christmas Countdown” Advent Calendar.

I’ve been dreaming of making this since summer….
and I finally got busy and did it this week.

Just in time!

I was looking for a fun way for my granddaughter to count down the days until Christmas with a little surprise each day, so when I found this inexpensive Over the Door Shoe Organizer this summer, I knew just what I was going to do.

I used fabric paint to paint the numbers on each “shoe pouch” – just the right number for an advent calendar!

And it was so much fun shopping for little toys and art projects and treats and hair bows and socks and mittens to fill all 24 compartments.

I think the anticipation of Christmas is almost more fun than the day itself.  I love the whole month leading up to it.

A friend shared this Advent Calendar of Kindness recently on Facebook, and I couldn’t resist sharing it too.

Don’t let the stress of the materialism of the holiday ruin this special time.  Small gifts of anticipation and everyday acts of kindness can make all the difference!  It’s what we need more of.

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

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