Don’t Stop Working for It

Pine Squirrel in the Spring Snow – Mars, PA – April 7, 2018

If you
can’t stop
thinking
about it,
Don’t stop
working
for it.

This little cutie is an American Red (Pine) Squirrel that hangs out in our back yard with the birds and other bigger squirrels (and chipmunks and turkey and deer and Charlie of course).  These little squirrels only stand about 6 inches tall, being just a bit bigger than a chipmunk, and weigh about a half of a pound (200-250 g).

Saturday morning, we awoke to another Spring snow with two or three inches on the deck railing.  This little bugger was not giving up on his quest to get to the (ahem) “bird” feeder for breakfast.  I caught him burrowing full force through the snow that was taller than him when on all fours, but he was determined…. and he got there.

He reminded me not to give up and not to stop working on what we want and where we want to go.

Thanks little buddy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies.

Are you a coconut lover?
Is dark chocolate your chocolate choice?

Would you choose a Mounds bar even if you are a little nutty?!

Then these cookies are definitely your dream come true!

They didn’t last long in our house.

I used Moser Roth 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate I purchased at Aldi.  YUM!

Not a coconut fan?
Make them for someone who is…
You just might earn Betty Crocker Baking Super Star status .

Just sayin’…

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream coconut oil and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and vanilla, followed by baking powder, salt, and flour.

Stir in chopped chocolate and coconut.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and set.  Cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

* Original recipe slightly adapted from Add a Pinch.

Tiny interesting choices

Tiny Interesting Japonica blooms, Mars, PA – April 2018

Tiny interesting choices.

Take wrong turns.  Talk to strangers.
Open unmarked doors.  And if you see a
group of people in a field, go find out
what they are doing. Do things without
always knowing how they’ll turn out.
You’re curious and smart and
bored, and all you see is the choice
between working hard and slacking off.
There are so many adventures that you
miss because you’re waiting to think of
a plan.  To find them, look for tiny
interesting choices.  And remember that
you are always making up the
future as you go,

Randall Munroe

Isn’t this great advice?!

Remember there is more to life than just working hard or slacking off…. there is so much “in between.”

Cherish those moments!

Look for those tiny interesting choices that are making up your future… your life.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PAWsitive Points to Ponder: A Charlie Guest Post

PAWsitive Points to Ponder:  A Charlie Guest Post.

Greet those you love with great enthusiasm – Every… Single… Time… you see them.
Wag your tail.
Jump up on them.
Smother them in kisses.

Stop and smell the roses.
Sniff out the interesting things.
Notice the things that pique your curiosity.
Never stop being inquisitive.

Mess up the bed.
Mom thinks the bed needs straightened up every day…
pressed and tidied and pillows fluffed and in place….
but I love to scrunch it all up into a cozy, wonderful, comfortable mess.  Yes!

Roll in the grass.
It’s a massage.
It’s a back scratcher.
It will make you feel like a kid again.

And never forget –
If all else fails,
curl up in a ball, lay in the sunshine,
and take a nap.

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.

 

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp.

On Easter Sunday, we enjoyed an absolutely amazing buffet brunch at a local restaurant in Mars called Breakneck Tavern where they served a positively divine shrimp risotto (among a kagillion other amazing treats).  I only had about a tablespoon of it on Easter, because I wanted to try so many of the other wonderful things they had available (way more than I could sample at one sitting!), but I could not get that shrimp risotto out of my mind.  It was sooooooo good!

Well – I have also  been hearing great things about “ricing” cauliflower and have been anxious to try.

Since I had a beautiful fresh head of cauliflower in the fridge, as well as a bag of shrimp in the freezer, I decided to try a healthier version of shrimp risotto for dinner last night.

O. M. G!  This turned out almost more heavenly than the original one I had a tiny taste of on Easter.  More heavenly because it is so much healthier, but also so delish!!!

My recipe is adapted from one I found at Cafe Delites.  This recipe is a low-carbohydrate, high protein, fiber-rich, calorie-friendly plate of deliciousness!  I hope you will give it a try.

P.S.  If I was making this only for me, I would totally add fresh green peas.  What do you think?  Hubby absolutely detests peas, so I sacrificed for him, but oooohhh –  can you imagine??!!  Pea lovers out there??

Here is how I made it.

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 12-14 oz shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1  cup Half and Half (or cream or milk)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (or dry white wine)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper (optional)

Directions:

Remove core from cauliflower and break into florets.  Working in batches of approximately 1 cup at a time, pulse cauliflower in food processor until it is the consistency of rice.  Place all in large bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and sear them while stirring until they start to lose their color.  Add garlic and juice of half of the lemon.  Fry for an additional minute.  Add cauliflower, red pepper (if adding) and olive oil.  Fry and stir for 3-4 minutes until fully combined and coated.  Stir in the half and half (or cream or milk) and chicken broth (or white wine).  Grate Parmesan cheese over all and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Combine.  Cover and reduce heat to low to simmer 6-8 minutes until creamy.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley and wedges of lemon from remaining half.  Top with additional Parmesan if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Hoppy Easter!

Easter Bunny Watercolor 2018 11×14

Hoppy Easter!

For those celebrating, I thought I would share a quick watercolor I did this weekend of a magical Easter Bunny.

A bunny that is THE Easter bunny would have to be magical right?

In doing a bit of quick internet research, I learned the Easter Bunny originated in Germany in the 1500s, and came to the United States in the 18th century through Protestant German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area (not far from me in Mars, PA!).  They told their children about the “Osterhase,” who brought good children colored eggs, candy, and sometimes toys in nests they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope this magical watercolor bunny brings a smile to your face and joy to your day.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

 

Classic Italian Lasagna

Classic Italian Lasagna.

I’ve shared before, and I’ll declare again… although I don’t have a drop of Italian heritage (that I know of) in me, I am an Italian “wannabe.”

I love cooking and eating Italian food.

Years ago – even before I was married – I worked with a young Italian woman who generously shared her Mom’s classic Italian lasagna recipe with me.

I have never made it any other way.  It is simple and classic and DELICIOUS!

I’ve adapted it to a smaller portion than the recipe originally shared with me since these days this size will last Hubby and I plenty long enough to almost grow tired of eating it for so many days in a row…. ALMOST!

When you are craving classic Italian lasagna, I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Here is how I make it.

Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart marinara tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork, turkey (or combination)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1/4 cup freshly minced basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parley
  • 1 lb. fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz.  Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add chopped onions and minced garlic, and saute until soft.  Add ground meat, and cook until browned.  Add marinara tomato sauce and simmer.

In medium bowl, mix Ricotta cheese, egg, salt, basil, and parsley.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In 8 or 9 inch square baking dish, spread 1/2 cup prepared meat sauce on bottom.  Layer with lasagna noodles – overlapping to cover.  Layer with half of Ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with sliced Mozzarella cheese.  Spoon more sauce over cheese to cover.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Repeat layering.  End with sauce topped with remaining Mozzarella and sprinkled with Parmesan.

Cover with foil.  Bake 25 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake 20 minutes longer or until browned and bubbly.  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Mangia tutti!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Crossroads

Crossroads Original Abstract by Jodi McKinney 11×14 140lb Cold Press

Crossroads.

When we arrive at a crossroads,
it is an opportunity to let go of the past
and who we have been.

Which way will we go?
Who will we decide
we want to become?

This recent acrylic abstract painting I created is called Crossroads.

Lately, I am driven towards abstraction and experimenting with acrylics.
It is fun to try something new…
An opportunity to discover who I want to be.

And my art is helping me find me…
the direction I want to go
at a crossroads of life.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  This original painting as well as prints and note cards are available at McKinneyX2Designs on ETSY.   Hope you will take some time to browse our watercolor paintings, original art, and handmade rustic signs and decor.