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

The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  This post is a special one.  It celebrates a very special event in my life.   A Journey back to Daddy’s Girl…

The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl – Happy 4th Anniversary Dad!

Today is a very special Anniversary…  A day that brings back floods of memories…  floods of emotions….  reflections on time missed…  but celebration of time and love shared…  from here on…

You see – Today is a Father-Daughter Anniversary.  Today is the 4 year anniversary of my reunion with my Dad (my “birth father”).

And I  thought it deserved a special anniversary card to send to Dad to help us cherish the day.

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So you might think that sounds a bit odd…. Father and Daughter Anniversary???

Well – I’m going to share a kinda big chunk and pretty personal part of my heart today.  So – if you’re not into that or not interested, you may just want to skip this blog.

So here goes…

On July 17, 2010, I was reunited with my Dad (my “birth father” Dad so as not to be confused with another great man in my life that I also call Dad – I know – a bit confusing – and on top of that both of their names are John!).

It was a day neither of us will ever forget.

The reason(s) for our separation for 39 years is really not the point or purpose of this story, nor do I feel appropriate to share, but the joy in our reunion is the focus here….  And oh what JOY we have shared.

For our second Christmas together again in 2012, I presented Dad with a book I wrote for him.

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I called it, “The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl.”  The book is a celebration of our initial exchange of emails leading up to our reunion that covers the course of only a few short weeks, but close to 70 pages of exchanges.  It chronicles how we discovered each other again – an adult daughter close to 50 years old – and an even more adult father – close to 70 years old who last saw each other when the little girl was 9 years old and the Daddy was just barely past 30.

We (well mostly I) asked each other questions (sometimes difficult ones) and our exchanges evolved from closings with “John (BF)” to “Love you, Dad”s.

Let me share the “Introduction” with you here.

———-

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  Jodi had a Mom and a Dad and a little brother.

Life was good, until one day when Daddy left.  Then Jodi just got to visit with Daddy on the weekends, until a day came when Mom introduced Jodi and her brother to a new Dad, and told her she would not be seeing her other Daddy any more.

Jodi lived a good life.  Her new Dad and Mom took good care of her and her brother and her new baby sister, but Jodi always felt something was missing.

She thought of her first Dad throughout her life.

She dreamed of bumping into him on the street… their eyes would lock, and they would immediately recognize each other.  Dad would tell her he loved her and missed her and was so proud of the woman she had become…..

Sometimes dreams do come true…”

———-

Marty (for those new here – the hubster), was instrumental in helping me find my Dad.

It is so much more incredibly easier than imaginable with the internet and people search software these days.

Marty has known for years – probably before I even realized – that there was a part of me missing – that there were unanswered questions – that there was a dad out there that I needed – and who needed me.  He has asked me over the years about it – ever since we started dating when I was a mere 16 year old high school girl and he was a “mature” 20-year old “man.”  (That story is a whole blog post for another day).  When Marty realized my yearning had grown so strong, and my need was so great, he was the one that took the step to reach out for me, and the resulting reply is etched in my mind and on my heart forever:

“Hi Jodi – Yes. I am your “Birth Father.”  It was an answer to prayer hearing from you.  I hope that you and John are both fine.  To this day, I regret the worst decision I have ever made.  I was talked into doing something, but I had my own mind.  At the time, I thought I was doing the best thing for your two.  Can you ever forgive me?”

And so began my Journey back to Daddy’s Girl.

And now we celebrate four wonderful years of being a reunited father and daughter, which began on July 17, 2010 when my Dad showed up to my house with a huge bouquet of flowers, a face that looked exactly like mine (and resembles Tom Jones I think only to me 🙂 ), immediately telling me he loved me, and he missed me, that I was beautiful (only to him I’m sure 🙂 ),and he was so proud of me.  You see – he wanted to fulfill my dream…  He wanted our reunion to be the wonderful event I had dreamed about over the years…

We both cried – happy and sad tears.  And we have talked almost every day since then.  We’ve spent  birthdays and holidays and Father’s days together.  He was with me at our son Jake’s wedding.  He loves my family as his own.  His family has embraced me as their own.  They have always known about me, and they welcomed me with open arms.

I will never forget the first time I met my Dad’s wife, Carole (aka Mom 2).  The first thing she said to me was, “Your Dad always promised me a daughter, and now I have one.  We’ve been praying for you for a long time.”

The epilogue of my book closes with:

———-

And so it began …….

With a simple email …

A journey back to Daddy’s girl.

And now, two and a half years later …

… we write each other almost every day

… and talk every weekday morning at 7:05

We’ve spent Father’s days together and holidays and birthdays and are part of each other’s lives again.

Our families love each other and we love each other.

‘What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life’

Dreams do come true!

this is not THE END.”

———-

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Father & Daughter Reunion Day – July 17, 2010

I hope this message will encourage those adult children who were separated from birth parents – at whatever age (birth, childhood, teenager, young adult) – for whatever reason – to reach out and try if it is something that has yanked on and ached in your heart for years.

Maybe your ending will not turn out as good as mine did  (and of course there is much more to our story than I’ve shared here so far) , but can anything hurt more than the emptiness and not-knowing that you feel every day?  Could the potential rejection be any worse than what you have imagined or decided or dealt with for years in your heart?

Love is worth the risk.  It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  Closure or resolution or answers to decades of unanswered questions can let you sleep at night…  can bring you peace… can make you right with yourself!  I’m certainly not an educated or trained professional in this area, but I can only speak of my own personal experience.

I wish you joy.  I wish you peace.  I wish you resolution.  I wish you wholeness of heart – no matter the ending.  YOU are worth it.  YOU are here for a reason.  YOU are loved.

Happy 4 year “Anniversary” Dad!  I love you, and I cherish you!   (And I’ve been listening to “our song” again this week.  I’m betting you will too.)  ❤  “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life!”

Cheers and Hugs,

Jodi

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake.

Our family is pretty much huge fans of Reese’s peanut butter cups and all things peanut butter and chocolate.

So when it came time to celebrate one of my son’s birthdays recently, I was excited to try this Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake recipe I found at Life, Love, and Sugar.

Disappoint it did not!!! Oh the chocolately peanut buttery amazingness!

Want to see it a little closer?!

This cake is not for the faint of heart….  yes -it is only for the most serious of chocolate and peanut butter addicts!

Want to see what a slice of it looks like?

Yep – that is three heavenly layers of moist chocolate cake separated only by a fluffy peanut butter frosting and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups!

Can you even stand it??!!

As much as we all love our peanut butter cups, we decided this cake would be just as delicious or possibly even better with half the frosting, so that is how I will likely make it next.

You decide – half the frosting or all…. but I’m betting you are going to be somebody’s super hero if you make and serve this cake!

Here is how I made it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

  • Servings: 1 large cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup hot water

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 9 cups powdered sugar
  • 6-8 Tbsp half and half

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Garnish:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare three 9″ cake pans by spraying them with Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray then placing a parchment circle on the bottom.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt in a bowl.

Combine milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in an electric mixing bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixing bowl, and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the hot water to the batter, and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven, and allow cake to cool in pans for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.   When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, overnight or for several days or weeks.

When ready to assemble cake, prepare frosting by combining the butter and peanut butter with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add half the powdered sugar until incorporated.  Add half of the half and half and combine.  Add remaining powdered sugar, then remaining half and half, and combine until smooth and fluffy frosting is formed.

Place first layer of cake on a serving plate.  Top with frosting and 3 chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Add the next cake layer and repeat frosting and peanut butter cups.

Add the final cake layer and frost top and sides of cake, reserving 1 cup of frosting for piping decorations if desired.

Make chocolate ganache by heating 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream in microwave for 1 minute.  Add one cup of chocolate chips.  Let set for a couple minutes, then stir until smooth ganache is created.  Pour on top of cake allowing some to drip down sides.

Decorate top of cake with chopped and halved Reese’s peanut butter cups and piped florets of frosting.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

My Favorite Cocktail: Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini

Happy Labor Day in the USA!

In honor of this day to relax,
and celebrate,
and take a break from work,

I thought I’d share one of my favorite cocktails.

If I’m not drinking a dry red wine,
my favorite adult beverage of choice is gin.

And when I really want to celebrate it’s
Hendrick’s Gin – a lovely Scottish gin infused with rose and cucumber.

And when it is the end of a vacation,
a holiday weekend,
and after 5pm (which it was when I had this yesterday),

I adore a Hendrick’s Dirty Martini
with gigantic green spanish olives
stuffed with tangy blue cheese.

Food and drink can be an art form
when prepared with the utmost detail,
and that is how I prepare this special cocktail.

Here’s my recipe if you are an olive, gin, blue cheese lover like me.

If not, what is your favorite cocktail to celebrate with?

Jodi's Hendrick's Dirty Martini

  • Servings: 1 Cocktail
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 (or so) shots of Henrick’s Gin
  • Splash of Vermouth (or not)
  • 3 large Spanish olives
  • Splash of olive juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fine bleu cheese

Directions:

Stuff 3 large olives with bleu cheese and skewer with large tooth pick.

In a shaker full of ice, add Gin and Vermouth (or not), and shake vigorously to chill.

Strain and pour into martini glass, add olive juice and stuffed olive skewer.  Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

We’re So Excited!

Engagement Ring Watercolor 5x7

Engagement Ring Watercolor

We’re so excited!

We are being blessed with another beautiful daughter-in-law!

Our son, Nick, proposed to his beautiful fiance, Liz, this past weekend.

So today’s little painting for #WorldWatercolorMonth is a diamond engagement ring.

It’s not nearly as beautiful as the real ring…
or the future bride-to-be…
or the smile on Nick’s face…
or the joy in my heart.

But it is a symbol
of a beautiful commitment
for a lifetime of love.

Nick and Liz Engagement

Nick and Liz Engagement

Nick created a beautiful “forever rose” from copper and metal as part of his engagement ring presentation.

Forever rose

And we enjoyed celebrating the happy couple – the new #McKinneytoBe this weekend!

nick and liz

Love you Nick and Liz! ❤

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Getting Geared up for World Watercolor Month in July

world Watercolor month

 

I’m very excited to partner with my buddy, Charlie @ Doodlewash to announce July 2016 will be the first-ever annual World Watercolor Month!

I’m so proud of Charlie for making this happen!  Over 18,000 applications are submitted each year for “official days” to celebrate, and only 30 are added to the calendar.  Despite the odds, Charlie’s idea made the cut, and it is official! July is now and forever World Watercolor Month!

So what does it mean?  July will be a month to inspire people to paint with watercolor (watercolour, aquarelle) while raising awareness for the importance of art and creativity in the world.   Anyone can join in on the celebration – from master watercolorists to artists just starting out with watercolor!  You can play along via WordPress or on Facebook.  If you create a watercolor painting you’d like to share, simply tag your art with #WorldWatercolorMonth during the month of July!

And, best of all, in this first year of the celebration, you’ll be part of raising awareness for children in need of art supplies and art education around the globe!

MAKE A CHILD’S DREAM COME TRUE!

The Dream Zebra Foundation Logo - Donate art supplies to celebrate World Watercolor Month July 2016 worldwatercolor.com Research has shown that art education has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the learning field across socioeconomic boundaries. Unfortunately, arts education programs are too often the first to be cut when cuts are necessary, so more and more children each year are missing out on the important benefits of art classes.

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Watercolor is the #1 needed art supply! Click Here to Help!

With your help, we can reverse this trend. To make this first ever month-long global celebration of watercolor affect real change, we’ve teamed up with The Dreaming Zebra Foundation, a charity providing support so that children and young adults are given an equal opportunity to explore and develop their creativity in the arts. Click here to shop the World Watercolor Month wish list of art supplies for kids! (hosted by Dick Blick) 

The Dreaming Zebra Foundation charity for Art supplies and art education for underprivileged children
Art education has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child.

The Dreaming Zebra Foundation is unique in that they provide an art recycling program that is free to the public. Reusable art & music supplies that would otherwise be discarded, along with new or unsold materials, are donated by individuals and businesses and matched to recipients who have requested those materials for arts education purposes in communities around the world.

Have some beginner watercolor sets you no longer use, but still have some life in them? You can also support the cause, by simply sending your reusable art supplies to:

THE DREAMING ZEBRA FOUNDATION
5331 SW MACADAM AVE., STE. 258-522
PORTLAND, OR 97239

With your help, we can raise awareness for art education worldwide and provide much needed support for kids in need. Art is an important aspect of child development and paves the way for a successful future. What would the world be without art? Together, let’s make sure we never find out!

I am personally excited to delve a little deeper with a bit more discipline into this art form that captured my heart and soul about a year ago and that I still consider myself a very new student of.  It has brought such great joy to my life – not only in the activity of creating, sharing, expressing (and even selling!), but also in the wonderful friends (like Charlie) who I have made along the way in this wonderful art journey.

I hope you will join in on the fun in any way you like – whether it be by painting and sharing, contributing, or simply by enjoying viewing what we all share at #WorldWatercolorMonth.

world-watercolor-month-july-2016-primary-logo

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Chocolate and Raspberry Custard Dessert in a Jar

chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert

We celebrated my youngest son, Nick’s birthday yesterday.  I was excited to try to recreate a recipe he recently had and loved at Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill restaurant a month or so ago while traveling.

chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert 2

So instead of a birthday cake this year, I made these beautiful, decadent treats for his dessert.  He loved it and said I aced it.  Momma’s heart is happy.  This dessert is beautiful and delicious and will make any occasion special.

It is so worth the time to create a magical, delicious dessert.  And the beauty of it is that it can be made a day ahead of time and assembled right before you serve it for an amazing treat.

I know there is someone on your “list” who would do almost anything for one of these!

Chocolate and Raspberry Custard in a Jar

Ingredients:chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 – 2.35 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
4 oz raspberry sauce (made by straining fresh 6 oz raspberries through a sieve with 1 Tbsp sugar)
16 fresh raspberries for garnish
chocolate granola for topping (recipe follows)
Whipped cream
4 – 6oz Mason jars

Directions:

Place heavy cream in pot on medium high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, and add chocolate chips.  Whisk until smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the chocolate ganache.  Mix milk, yogurt and remaining chocolate ganache (other than 1/2 cup) in a mixing bowl. Stir in the pudding mix until fully incorporated.  Pour 5 oz. of custard into each Mason jar or dessert dish.  Top with  1oz reserved ganache per jar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  Top with raspberry sauce, vanilla whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate granola.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

And the chocolate granola….

O M G!

This is a treat in and of itself!

I might be able to live on just this.

Make it to accompany the Chocolate and Raspberry Custard in a Jar Dessert or to top yogurt , ice cream, or to just toss in your mouth as a yummy snack.

chocolate granola

Oats and almonds and walnuts coated with cocoa and agave nectar and drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate….

Heaven in a bite!

chocolate granola 2

Chocolate Granola

Ingredients:chocolate granola
2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats
1 Cup of Sliced (or slivered) Almonds
1 Cup of Chopped Walnuts
1/4 cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup of Agave Nectar (you can also use Maple Syrup)
1/4 cup  Butter
1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

 Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt agave nectar and butter on medium-low heat.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cocoa, sugar and melted butter mixture to coat well.

Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking stone or sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top.

Allow mixture to cool completely.  Serve over Chocolate and Raspberry Custard Dessert, ice cream, yogurt, or enjoy as a snack.

Adapted from a recipe from Laura in the Kitchen

And here is the birthday “boy” with his birthday dessert.

Nick 26

Happy Birthday Nick!  You have made the past 26 years more joyful than you will ever know.  I wish you love and happiness and as much chocolate and raspberry custard as your heart desires.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Celebrating a Perfect Pair

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This weekend brought the opportunity to celebrate a very special bride-to-be.

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Beautiful Candace will be marrying her “perfect pair” C.J. in just a few weeks.

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C.J. was my youngest son, Nick’s, “roomer” all through college, and this sweet couple has become part of our extended family.

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We celebrated with some amazing and beautiful food,

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refreshing, icy drinks,

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and “silly” fun shower games.

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It was great to see one of my favorite gals (and all time favorite “flower girl”), Grandma Susan!

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It’s not hard to see where her family gets their beauty and joy from.

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Momma Candi is celebrating her second “child’s” wedding this year!

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It was such a joy to take photos of these beautiful girls…

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…on such a beautiful day with such beautiful surroundings (though a teensy weensy beansy bit hot for this “menopausal momma!”)

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What a privilege to capture such joy and beauty!

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What a wonderful way to celebrate love!

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These two cuties are going to make a “perfect pair!”

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Check in tomorrow to see the “perfect pair” gift I made for these two cuties!

perfect pair wedding shower gift framed photo

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Sometimes Simple is the Sweetest

memorial day birthday cake red raspberries and blackberries
Did you ever notice how fancy and fussy doesn’t always equal most delicious?

Take birthday cake for example, I have spent hours and fortunes on fancy cakes with fondant decorations or “secret” expensive ingredients.

But, as I can attest from this past weekend’s Memorial Day/DIL Birthday cake, my family absolutely and totally went gaga over a simple Betty Crocker Supermoist Party Rainbow Chip Cake Mix baked in a 13×9 pan with white frosting and fresh fruit on top.

For the frosting, I mixed half a tub of Duncan Hines Fluffy White Frosting Mix and half of a large container of Cool Whip.  Canned frosting alone is way too sweet.  Cool Whip alone just doesn’t hit the mark.  Together, though, they are a marriage made in heaven!  AMAZING Frosting!  Try it – I’ll bet you get raves!

And to really rock it out, a scoop of Birthday Party ice cream doesn’t hurt either!  (Hagan Parlor Favorites makes a yummy Birthday Party flavor that has confetti chips and CHUNKS of birthday cake in the ice cream!)

Even those of you who don’t consider yourselves “Kitchenistas” can be Rock Stars with this easy combo!

Birthday party ice cream

Sometimes simple is the sweetest.

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi