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.

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.

 

A Special Happy Birthday

Watercolor Birthday Card in Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna

A Special Happy Birthday.

Every year on this day
is a very special day to me.

27 years ago
on a Saturday at 1:57 a.m.

a perfect and chubby 10 pound
baby boy blessed my life.

That sweet little boy
grew into an even sweeter man.

Thank you for the joy and happiness and love
you bring to my life.

May this year be the best…
until the next.

When I wish that it is the best,
like I feel being your mom.

Every year was the best – until the next,
and they still continue to be.

Happy Birthday NIck!

With so much love,
Mom

My Favorite Watercolor Subject

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Baby C Watercolor 030117 8×10 140 lb Saunders

I had fun a couple evenings this week playing in my new Art Studio painting one of my favorite subjects.

Wonder what she will think of these one day?  Laugh?  Cry?

Hopefully there will be more, and they will be sweet memories to her of a grandma that adored her – right from the start.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Being a Best Friend: A Charlie Dog Guest Post

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Charlie and his best friend Jaeger, February, 2017 – Mars, PA

Being a Best Friend:  A Charlie Dog Guest Post.

Here are some things I have learned about being a best friend.  I hope you find these helpful:

  • Always act like it has been a hundred trillion years since you’ve last seen each other (even if it’s only been a day)!  Run around like maniacs and chase each other and jump all over each other.  It shows how much you’ve missed them and love them.
  • Share your “stuff” (including your donuts and bones and balls) – even if it is difficult – and its even okay to play tug with them for a while, but always take turns giving in.
  • Share your food and drink – more will always be provided.
  • Invite them into your home – and visit their home too (even if you have to sneak!)
  • Love each other’s families – they are the ones who helped make them the way they are.
  • Tell each other secrets (use secret signals and languages if necessary), and make sure you keep them secrets.
  • Take walks together – its good exercise and company.

These are just a few things I have learned along the way since I met my new best friend about a year ago when he moved into my neighborhood.  Jaeger (that’s my best friend’s name) is a year younger than me even though he is bigger.  Isn’t he handsome?  I love Jaeger, and he loves me.  We are best friends.

Mom tells me that to have a best friend you have to be one, so I try really hard.

Everyone needs at least one best friend.  I’m glad I have Jaeger.

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, Jaeger the neighbor dog, 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.

Why?

sunny-sky-february-19-2017-mars-pa

Why do I feel the most sad
when it is the brightest most beautiful day?
Some time has passed and life goes on,
but why does my heart not feel better?

Why does the sound that I used to love
of the trains blowing their horns in the distance and echoing through the hills
haunt me so much
that I sometimes want to scream “Shut Up!”

Why do the melodious wind chimes
that sing in the breeze
make me so sad and sometimes mad
that I had to put them away for a while.

Why did you have to take your life
on the day we used to celebrate
the life of another so dear to us
whose life was also ended too soon?

Why – on a most beautiful day in February – the month of your birth,
when it should be cold and snowy and blustery,
did I sit in the sunshine… in bare feet… and short sleeves…
and mourn this beautiful gift you were missing that I know you would have loved?

Why did we often let long periods of time pass
when we didn’t see each other or talk
when I knew you were there and that you loved me,
and I know you knew I loved you too?

But now you are gone,
and now I think of you every day,
and I miss you every day…
and I wish things could be different.

With love always from your sister,
Jodi

Friends – I usually try to keep my blog upbeat and encouraging, but I really felt the need to share that even in the best of days and times and all the blessings in life, there are still times of grief and sadness.  We can’t ignore it.  Grief is something we all must face when we love.  When we love someone and lose them, it hurts deeply.  But it is still worth it to love and bear the hurt, for what would life be like without the love?  To grieve means you have loved.  And to love and lose is far greater than to have never loved at all.

I also want to thank a dear friend, who somehow always seems to know the right time and right thing to say.   This dear friend – out of the blue and from far away – sent me a text telling me he was thinking of me and my brother when he heard a song, and he thought I should listen to it as it could be my brother’s parting song.  If you care to listen, this is the song he recommended to me: “Go Rest High On That Mountain

Who has more fun than Grandmas?

g-and-c

Who has more fun than Grandmas?

Playing dress up
with tutus and bows
and lipstick kisses
in the morning.

Trips to the grocery store
in the afternoon
being caught singing in the aisles
about cucumbers and strawberries and tomatoes and cream.

And in between…
there’s dancing and bouncing
and tickling and giggling
and cuddling and snuggling.

Nobody has more fun
than Grandmas!
(at least not this one) 

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

A Valentine Couples Camp Party

valentines-day-couples-camp-toast-with-love-potion-cocktail-grand-marnier-champagne

This past weekend, a gang of our bestie couple friends got together to celebrate love and friendship.

My McHendy “sister,’ Jill, and I collaborated to plan what we called “Valentine’s Couple Camp.”

Those of you that have been hanging around here at TheCreativeLifeinBetween for a while might remember our first Couple Camp Weekend Retreat that I posted about here.

Unfortunately, we missed a year… I guess weddings, babies, life… got us too involved.  But when Jill called a couple weeks ago and said we should do another Couples Camp for Valentine’s Day, I was all in and offered to host at our home.

And so we did.

Bubby and Glenn were assigned appetizers, and boy did they rock the theme!  Check out all the ways you can make food into hearts!

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shaped-cheese-and-pepperoni-appetizer

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shaped-vegetable-tray-appetizer

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shrimp-cocktail-platter-appetizer

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shaped-cheese-and-pepperoni-crescent-roll-appetizers

I created a special “Love Potion” cocktail to toast the beginning of our time together.  I mixed 1/3 Grand Marnier Signature Collection No. 2 Raspberry Peach with 2/3 champagne and garnished with a fresh red raspberry.  Yum!

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Jill is our illustrious “camp” activities director.  After a silly group photo,

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Jill and I sent the rest of the gang to the bar, while we laid out the all the materials for everyone to create their own “Love Shack” out of chocolate graham crackers and candy (a Valentine gingerbread house of sorts).  Everyone was given a flag to name their Love Shack and 20 pennies to distribute into shot glasses after everyone finished and presented their masterpieces to vote on the best.

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We had some serious creativity going on.  Check it out!

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valentines-couple-camp-love-shack-building

Hubby made his into “Camp Happy Beginning” reminiscent of the early days of love and not having much but feeling like everything is a rainbow …. or something like that… if you can imagine…

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Mary made hers into “Mary’s Cozy Cottage” decorated with a comfy couch and chairs and a big colorful outdoor patio…

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I was much busier laughing and taking pictures under the guise of “hosting” to focus too much on mine, but came up with this pretty lame “McKinney Love Shack.”

mckinney-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

Bubby lovingly created the “McKinney B&B.”

mckinneys-b-and-b-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

and her Glenn created “Glen’s Gang Bang Getaway.”  No explanation here.  You can use your own imagination.

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Jim cracked us up with his creation. Simple, but with a funny and politically-inspired statement.  His “American” themed love shack had three characters involved…  “I’m a Russian” on his way to the love shack, “Himalyan” in the love shack, and “He’s a Finnish” leaving the love shack…

jims-american-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

Jill’s was a fabulous “Jill’s Sweet Shack” with a candy paved lane.

jills-sweet-shack-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

But Todd stole the show with his outhouse-themed love shack complete with cut out crescent moon doors.

outhouse-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

We assigned Mary the entree knowing she would make all of our tummies happy, and she did not disappoint!  In fact, we were so into her amazing stuffed shells, meatballs and spare ribs in homemade Italian sauce, I forgot to photograph it!  Thankfully, she left a few for us to enjoy for dinner the next day, so I took a quick photo of our leftovers.  Which, by the way, tasted just as magnificent!  Thanks Mar!

valentine-couples-camp-dinnerstuffed-shells-and-meatballs

I made a simple salad and sliced up some fresh bread to accompany Mary’s entree,

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and we gave another toast to friendship!

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I had fun preparing for our guests by tidying up the guest rooms,

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guest-room-1

including a quick convert of the nursery with an air mattress bed,

air-mattress-in-nursery

and placing heart-shaped Dove Red Velvet Chocolates on pillows.

valentines-day-couples-camp-dove-red-velvet-chocolates-on-guest-pillows

I set the table with red plates and chocolate heart treats…

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dining-room-set-for-valentines-day-couples-camp-2017-2

and even little heart shaped spoons!

dining-room-set-for-valentines-day-couples-camp-2017-heart-spoons

Aren’t they adorable!

I was assigned dessert,  so a chocolating I went.  You already know about my chocolate-dipped wafer cookies and Ultimate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies which I had out, but I also made a bouquet of chocolate-dipped strawberries,

chocolate-dipped-strawberry-roses

and the most amazing and simple No Bake Chocolate Ganache Cookie Crust Tart I saw on another blog.

chocolate-strawberry-tart-valentines-day-couples-camp-dessert

chocolate-strawberry-tart-valentines-day-couples-camp-dessert-2

I’ll share this recipe soon.  It is seriously amazing and uses only a couple simple ingredients!

We talked the guys into playing Couples Scattegories and had fun staying up late drinking and talking until later than any of us ever stay up.

Hubby made omelets to order the next morning after we all awoke… later than we usually get up.

valentines-couples-camp-breakfast

What a joy to have such wonderful friends to share time and our home with!

And quoting Jill from last time, I once again share:

“I recommend that all of our friends coordinate a Couple’s Camp weekend. Great fun. Lots of laughter. Many life stories shared. And the realization that life long friends and connections are priceless! So go make some memories!”

Thanks for the memories dear friends!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

You could have

johnny

JPT 2/8/64 – 12/27/16

You could have
been 53 years old today.

You could have
been anything you wanted to be.

You could have
been a father, husband, brother, uncle, son, friend.

You could have
watched that train go by.

You could have
fought it.

You could have
lived and loved and been loved.

But you had other plans.
You gave up.

You chose not to be
53 or anything you wanted to be.

You chose not to be
a father, husband, brother, uncle, son, friend.

You chose not to
watch the train go by.

You chose not to
fight or live or love or be loved.

I hope with all of my heart
and every fiber of my being

that your plan
brought you peace.

In loving memory on your birthday and every day,
Your sister,
Jodi

Warmth

warmth-of-fireplace

Warmth…

A crackling fire glowing in the fireplace,
A steaming bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

The eyes of your child when they know you are sad,
The hand of a friend whose always by your side.

The fur of your four-legged best friend whose always by your side,
A soft, chenille blanket from a special lady who goes by the name of Mom (II),

An unexpected text with a photo of your grandchild,
A handwritten letter in the mail from a favorite aunt.

The first sip of coffee on a cold winter morning,
A glass of red wine after a long day at work.

Favorite fuzzy slippers you accidentally wear out of the house,
A well-worn hoodie with threadbare elbows.

Memories from a special song,
A tight hug that lasts longer than a pat on the back.

The ringing of the phone at the same time every morning,
and the sound of a Dad whistling while he patiently waits.

An air kiss blown while rolling over in the middle of the night,
An “I love you” on the way out the door,

A smile that greets you when you enter the office,
The privilege of introducing your future daughter-in-law.

The distinct squeak of the door opening at the end of the day,
The comforting sound of a snore you’ve loved for 35 years.

Cheers & Warm Hugs,
Jodi