Roasted Potatoes and Fennel

Roasted Potatoes and Fennel

Recipes like this one I am sharing today are ones where I really wish I had the ability to share “smell-a-blogavision!”

The amazing aroma that filled my kitchen and nose when I roasted this fennel and potato recipe is too divine for words.  Seriously!

So after the euphoria of the fragrance faded, and I began typing this post, I was trying to find a word worthy to describe it.  It was THAT amazing!

In my “research,” I found that fennel is actually used as an essential oil and  in aromatherapy.  Well…. there you have it!  I was not kidding about how awesome it smelled!  Apparently, sweet fennel essential oil helps nourish and restore an optimal mind and outlook. It is believed to bring strength and courage in the face of adversity.

Have you cooked much with fennel?  Besides smelling like heaven, it has great health benefits too.  It is wonderfully crunchy and sweet when served raw  in salads or silky and succulent when roasted or braised.  It has an interesting licorice-like flavor.

Now… before those of you who are not licorice fans skip over this recipe….. STOP!  You have to give it a try!

When you roast this amazing celery-like root vegetable…. O. M. G!    I don’t have the words for the amazingness.

Mixed with some simple sliced potatoes and seasoning, it makes for a simply glorious addition or highlight to your dinner.

We had ours with some grilled chicken and a simple cucumber and tomato vinaigrette salad one day last week.

I will be making this again and again.  I adore it!  Hope you do too!

Roasted Potatoes and Fennel

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 small/medium potatoes (I used Yukon golds), sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spread sliced potatoes and fennel in an even layer on a stoneware baking dish or baking pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and rosemary.  Roast approximately 40 minutes, tossing 2-3 times during roasting, until golden brown and tender.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes.

They really are among us.

And I have to brag on one of them (maybe two).

For those of you that have been hanging around here at TheCreativeLifeinBetween for any length of time know about our amazing McHendy family.

Well – our youngest Jake (who we affectionately refer to as Baby Jake, but who is far from a baby these days!)  is now a distinguished Naval officer on a ship that was being commissioned this past weekend.  An Everyday Hero he is!

But behind the story of this great hero is another hero.  This everyday hero shuns the spotlight, but she does magical, amazing, generous acts of kindness behind the scenes.

She also just so happens to be my BFF.  Her name is Jill, and she is astonishingly extraordinary.  (Remember the Pay it Forward Christmas Gift Challenge?)

Well – much like any Mom of a military service person would do – Jill sends “care packages.”

But Jill doesn’t send care packages just to her son (our Jake), she sends them to the ENTIRE crew of the ship he is on – EVERY month!

She does it behind the scenes, all on her own, while also working full time and then some in an executive position, being a mom to four grown children and grandma to one (and a half!), and being an amazing friend and philanthropist.

When we recently celebrated Jill’s birthday, Jill insisted on paying the bill for lunch.  When paying, she told our server to “keep the change.”  The server questioned her to assure she meant what she said, because, you see, Jill tipped our server over double the amount of the cost of our lunch.  It was her “gift” to the server – on HER birthday!

That’s the kind of person she is…  Someone I can only aspire to be like!

When she was recently called up among dignitaries and military personnel and political celebrities to be honored at the commissioning of the naval ship our Jake is an officer on, she humbly accepted, but raised her arm in respect to doing it “all for the crew!”

I am so stinking proud of her, I had to share!  She will likely not be pleased, but hopefully she will forgive me, because she knows I am doing it out of love and respect for the amazing person she is.

Everyday heroes are among us!  And I am so honored to call one of them my BFF!

Love you Jill!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

 

A Pair of Hummingbirds in Watercolor

Colorful Hummingbird Watercolor 8x10 140lb Saunders Hot Press

Colorful Hummingbird Watercolor 8×10 140lb Saunders Hot Press

A Pair of Hummingbirds in Watercolor.

Among the many birds that visit our backyard are sweet little hummingbirds.

I noticed our little hummer friends that arrived in May didn’t seem to be visiting the feeder recently and realized I had not changed the “nectar.”  As soon as I filled it with fresh sugary water, they were back in a snap.

They are so beautiful.  Not nearly as wacky colored as I created here in this pair, but I sure had fun going wild with color creating this beautiful, graceful little creatures.

Colorful Hummingbirdm2 Watercolor 8x10 140lb Saunders Hot Press

Colorful Hummingbird 2 Watercolor 8×10 140lb Saunders Hot Press

Recalling the one I recently painted for a friend, I had fun creating these ones on a whim and with no agenda or direction in mind.   I love this style of painting where you just throw color down and add water and watch it do its magic!  Every one is a unique creation.

Hope your day is colorful and creative and magical.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

I’ve Fallen Madly in Love…. with Biscotti

I’ve fallen madly in love… with Biscotti!

I’m not sure why?  But all of the sudden, I can’t get enough of it.

It all started with an “impulse” purchase (dang hungry shopping!) – where I picked up a small package of almond flavored biscotti.

I’ve never really been drawn to biscotti – thinking it rather dry and bland tasting, but oh was I wrong!

Dry?  Maybe… but in an amazingly crispy, crunchy way.

Bland?  Far from it!  So full of flavor and texture.

And when served with coffee (or red wine) 🙂 – and dunked – Wowza!

The word “biscotto” means “biscuit” or “cookie.” Biscotti are named according to their method of baking. The root words “bis” and “cotto” literally mean “twice” and “baked.” When Italians first created biscotti in the region of Tuscany many centuries ago, they were careful to bake the cookies twice, in order to form their unique shape and allow the cookies to develop their signature crisp texture.

So after purchasing the almond…… and then the orange pecan…… I decided it was time I try to bake my own biscotti.

I considered what I had on hand and chose to try a Starbucks Copycat recipe of Dried Tart Cherry and Walnut.

I’m not sure I achieved the correct shape, but I’m pretty sure I nailed the flavor!

Hubby, who would normally not choose biscotti…. well – let’s just say he definitely liked them.  We won’t talk about how many he ate when he found them cooling, but suffice it to say, they were a hit!

Here’s the recipe I tried, and I cannot wait to try more flavors.

This could be a very dangerous love affair!

Cherry Walnut Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 stick  butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter in electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating for about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Add baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and mix.  Add flour just until blended.

Mix in walnuts, cherries and  orange zest by hand.

Turn the batter out onto a floured work surface and divide in half.  Shape each half into a log 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Transfer to baking sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Place baking sheet on wire rack and let logs cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch wide slices, and carefully place the slices back onto the baking sheet.  Bake for another 10 minutes. Let the biscotti cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

I’m O-Fish-Ally Hooked on You Daddy!

I am O-Fish-Ally Hooked on You Daddy!

If you are looking for a cute and easy, creative Father’s Day Card to make from a child or grandchild to his daddy or grandpap, how about this cute little hand print fishy?  (Especially if Daddy or Pap enjoys fishing!)

My little granddaughter and I made this for her Daddy for his first Father’s Day.  On the inside, we wrote:  “You are the best daddy in the whole sea!”

A great little gift idea to go with the “theme” that we did was a gift bag full of fish:  Swedish Red Fish and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, which come in at least a dozen different flavors ranging from Vanilla Cupcake, S’mores, and Fudge Brownie to Pizza, Chedder, Pretzel, and Honey Mustard and Pretzel Blends.

Hope all the Daddys and Grandpaps out there are o-fish-ally recognized and surrounded with love on their special upcoming day.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Idea inspired by:  gluetomycraftsblog

Caught in the Net

Caught in the Net - Fishing Net in Black & White - Lake Arthur - May 2017

Caught in the Net – Fishing Net in Black & White – Lake Arthur – May 2017

Caught in the Net.

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

A good question to ask ourselves at the end of each day … “Have I done well?”

And if not…  tomorrow is  another day.

Keep on trying.

Be caught in the net of good.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Purple Finch in Watercolor

Purple Finch in Watercolor 5x10 140lb Saunders Cold Press

Purple Finch in Watercolor 5×10 140lb Saunders Cold Press

Purple Finch in Watercolor.

After moving on from yesterday’s post  and so grateful for the many kind comments and encouragement from so many of you, I decided to paint!

Yep!

But just a sweet, simple, loose little impression of one of the beautiful little birds that visits our backyard frequently – the purple finch.

And it just so happens to be the 8th of the month, which is #DrawaBirdDay, so why not?!  It’s been a while since I’ve participated.

I painted this little darlin’ on an odd-sized “scrap” of watercolor paper I had that was about 5×10″.  I used Quinacridone Rose for the “purple” and mixtures of Curelean Blue, Yellow Ochre, and Rose for the browns/grays.  I added an extra dash of Perylene Violet to the background just for kicks, used a white gel pen for some feathery “detail,” and finished with some signature splashes.

It was fun, and I like how it turned out.

Now I must go feed the birds!

Have a wonderfully fun day filled with doing something you love.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

I Failed!

I failed…

I let people down.
I let myself get upset.
I got in over my head.
I took on more than I could handle – bit off more than I could chew.

And now…
I have to eat crow,
because I told everyone about it before I really carefully considered it,
before I really tried it,
before I realized the time and commitment involved.

You may recall I got all excited about some paintings I did for a sweet blogging friend, Carolyn, who is co-authoring a book with Colin.  Carolyn had challenged me to paint some characters in the book they are writing.  I did, with the full intention of gifting them to her, but when she fell in love with them (and Colin liked them too), they asked if I would be interested in illustrating their book.

In my enthusiasm, I eagerly accepted.

Then they sent me the first chapter to illustrate…

After three evenings’ attempts, my “illustration” didn’t even look good enough to turn in for a First Grade art project!

I grew frustrated and began to get nervous at how much time would be involved in creating 30 illustrations – likely through multiple iterations – and the time I had to do it in -considering I work full time (and then some), the time I love spending with my family, the time I enjoy on this blog, and the real creativity I enjoy.

What was I thinking??  I have no education or professional experience in this.  I am NOT an illustrator.  I love loose, expressive watercolor painting – painting flowers and birds and any ole’ thing that strikes my fancy.  I love turning them into cards and prints and sharing and selling them on my Daughter-in-Law’s and my little Etsy Shop.

But drawing and painting pictures and scenes….   Well – not only do I not (currently) have the talent  (I say that because I believe anyone can learn to do almost anything they want to do with enough time, practice, effort, and passion for it), but I honestly don’t have the time or the passion for it.

So I quickly told Carolyn and Colin this just wasn’t going to work for me.

It was HARD!

I do not like to fail…
I do not like to give up…
I do not like to break commitments…
I do not like to let people down.

But they were so understanding, and my four paintings were carefully packaged and mailed to Carolyn for her to always have as a small gift and remembrance from me.

And I have to admit a weight has been lifted from my shoulders,
and my heart is light and carefree again.
I failed, but I failed fast and am not beating myself up about.
I uncommitted quickly and decisively and before I got in too deep.

I painted this big red letter F.
I loosely painted a big red circle around it.

and I feel Free,
and I am Forgiving myself.
I am Focusing on what I love to do,
and I am having Fun…

at Life In Between.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Thank you Carolyn and Colin for your faith in me, for giving me this experience, for helping me realize where my heart is, and for forgiving me for letting you down.  I wish you the greatest success on your Moonbeam Farm books!  I know I’ll be purchasing and reading them – and admiring someone else’s illustrations! 🙂

 

A Rainbow of Umbrellas

A Rainbow of Umbrellas Shading the Sunshine at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival - June 2017

A Rainbow of Umbrellas Shading the Sunshine at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival – June 2017

A Rainbow of Umbrellas.

May the shelter you seek
from sunshine or rain
be as bright and cheerful
as this canopy of colorful umbrellas.

And may you always remember
even the most beautiful flowers
need both sunshine and rain
to bloom and grow!

Cheers & Hugs in Rain or Shine,
Jodi

#Pittsburgh #ThreeRiversArtsFestival
P.S. Got lucky and spent a beautiful sunny day at our local arts festival Saturday with a couple of my favorite girls.  The festival is sadly known for bringing the rain every year, and it has been living up to its reputation ever since. Poor vendors. Bring on the sunshine!

Blue Heron Taking Flight in Watercolor

Blue Heron Taking Flight Watercolor - 8x10 140 lb Saunders Cold Press

Blue Heron Taking Flight Watercolor – 8×10 140 lb Saunders Cold Press

Blue Heron Taking Flight in Watercolor.

It’s been a busy week and weekend, but I found a little time Sunday evening to do a some painting.

I saw a photo my blogging friend Jenna took and posted on The Painted Apron that really drew me in.  I mentioned to Jenna the photo looked like a “painting in waiting.”

Jenna doesn’t prefer to paint birds or people. (She says she can’t, but I’m sure that’s not true!  She is a very gifted artist!)  She told me she would love for me to paint him.  So here he is Jenna.   I could probably do a bit better with another try, but no time left this weekend.  That’s okay…  I’m still an artist taking flight, and I’m going to reach for that soar!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi