Reflections in December

Reflections in December.

Happy December Friends!

I spent a good part of yesterday putting up our Christmas tree.

I’m being a bit more “minimalist” about decorating this year.  I’ve decided not to put out all the santas or all the snowmen I’ve collected over the years.

Instead… I’m opting for a more white and silver and elegant kinda vibe.

But I did spend hours working on the tree.

I had forgotten I bought a brandie new 9 foot tall beauty last year until we brought it out of the attic, and I realized the box was completely sealed.  What a fun “surprise!”
What a lot of work “fluffing” the branches!

But, unlike past years, I didn’t care how long it took.  No rushing this year.  I put the movie White Christmas on, and I sang along with Bing and Danny and Rosemary and Vera.  And I fluffed and reflected.

I reflected on Decembers and Christmases and trees past.

I smiled remembering cutting down live trees and decorating them with handmade ornaments from my mother-in-law and vintage balls painted with my name and the year on from my childhood when we were so young we were still kids ourselves.   Money was tight but the joy was so joyous!

My eyes teared up remembering hubby lifting our little boys high up in the air so they could take their turn every other year reaching the tippy top of the tree to crown it with the star.

I laughed remembering the magic of Sammy our magical elf, who came every December 1st – long before anyone had ever heard of Elf on a Shelf (oh why didn’t I think to market it!!!).  He is the one “ornament” I put on the tree no matter the “theme” each year.  He’s been coming around for 30 years.

I felt melancholy remembering loved ones who we spent Christmases with who are no longer with us – those who have passed, but live in our hearts forever.

I remembered the emptiness of those first empty nester years.

I reminisced about the first Christmas being reunited with my Dad and the wonderful, loving extended family that came along with him.

I rejoiced in the renewed joy and magic that grandchildren have brought to Christmas.

And I celebrate life.  I am choosing to celebrate the woman I’ve become through the time and experiences I’ve been given.   I am making an effort every day to be the me I am meant to be – not comparing to others – those younger or thinner or smarter or wealthier or more talented or whatever we all compare each other about.  I am telling myself every day that I am enough.  As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  December is also my birthday month (even if it doesn’t come until the very last day of the month!).  And as a very wise friend, who faced and battled cancer years ago once told me when I said I don’t want to celebrate birthdays any more as I get older… “Celebrate!  Each day and year is a gift.    Not everyone gets this opportunity.”

May you find time to reflect on the memories, joys, sorrows, blessings and gifts of your life.  Have a beautiful December!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Nostalgic Santa

Vintage Santa Christmas Watercolor 11×14

Nostalgic Santa.

I am getting soooo in the Christmas spirit!

We have had snow and unseasonably cold temperatures lately; and I have to say, I have been loving it!

Ever since I painted my Vintage Santa Face watercolor,  I have been itching to do another vintage Santa painting.

So I did!  And here he is!

Ho Ho Ho!!

So much fun!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Vintage Santa Face Watercolor

Vintage Santa Face Original 11×14 Watercolor by Jodi McKinney

Vintage Santa Face Watercolor.

Hi Friends –

It’s been a hot minute or two (aka almost a month!) since I’ve posted here on my CreativeLifeInBetween blog.

And I have to admit… I have really been enjoying the blogging break.

I have been enjoying lots of time with family and friends and keeping busy at work.

I’ve cried tears of sorrow and loss with a few friends/family who have lost parents recently.

I’ve cried tears of joy as friends celebrated homecomings and moves.

I’ve cried tears of frustration at myself for making stupid mistakes.

I’ve smiled so hard I thought my cheeks would break seeing first time “school” pictures of my sweet grandie girls.

I’ve celebrated and toasted new beginnings and successes with my adult kiddos.

I’ve laughed so hard with friends, it made all the frustrations of the day disappear.

In other words, I’ve been living every day to the fullest and cherishing the moments.

And this weekend, I found time to play in my art room, and I created this Vintage Santa Face Watercolor Painting that I have to say I am sooooo pleased with it makes me smile!

My DIL, Colleen, and I are ramping up and getting ready for our biggest sale of the year at the Mars Fall Craft Show being held Saturday, November 23rd at the Mars High School and Christmas Open House at Berry Vine Gifts November 15-17.  If you are near, we hope you will come see us.  If not, feel free to check out our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop!

We’re also getting ready to celebrate a special birthday for a 3-year old girl and her 61-year old Pap!  (Both who I love more than life itself! <3)

Hope you are all doing well!

Sending Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  I’ve been posting more on Instagram if you hang out there and would like to follow.

 

 

Ho Ho Hello!

Original Santa Watercolor Painting by Jodi McKinney 11×14

Ho Ho Hello!

Popping in with a Ho Ho Hello
and this plump and jolly ole’ elf
Santa watercolor painting.

Hope you all are doing well.

I’ve been busy at work
and busy having fun with my grandie girls and family.

I’ve also been splashing about a bit in my art room
and decided to paint this chubby guy for the holidays!

Because you know…..
Nobody likes a skinny Santa!”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Lucas the Lucky Lion

Lucas the Lucky Lion OriginalWatercolor Painting – 11×14

Lucas the Lucky Lion.

In a faraway land that was known as Zion,
lived Lucas, the exceedingly lucky little lion.

No matter the game – played morning or afternoon,
Lucas the lion was always the most opportune.

He seemed to be blessed
with the very best success.

And never did he possess
even the teeniest bit of stress.

Lucas knew he was king
of kickball and juggling.

This extremely lucky lion was tops at kicking balls and batting.
He even stole the show when dribbling, dunking, and passing.

But the thing that made Lucas the luckiest of all –
the skill that made him so very exceptional…

Was Lucas the Lucky Lion’s quintessential charm.
For there wasn’t a friend or foe he couldn’t charismatically disarm.

************************************************

Lucas the Lion is a special surprise for one of my BFs.  I was looking for recommendations on what to paint after taking a little break for the holidays, and she requested a Lucas the Lion and Harper the Hippo for her two grandchildren, who are fans of Klaus the Mouse.

I thought you might like to see a bit of the process I go through for a painting.

First I draw a pencil sketch.

Once I am happy with a design, I either redraw in pencil on watercolor paper or use a light box to trace the basic outline.

If the pencil markings are too dark, I then use a kneaded putty eraser to lighten up the lines.  If needed, I use some masking fluid to preserve any areas I want to assure stay white.

I then consider colors using my watercolor swatch charts, choose a few brushes I may use, fill my water bucket, and assure paper towels and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge are handy.

I am then ready to put on my first wash of paint.

After the first wash is dry, I rub off the masking fluid, and I begin adding layers, allowing to dry as necessary until I am happy with the painting.

Once my original is finished, I take the best photo I can of it for printing.  Most all of my paintings are available in our McKinneyX2Design Etsy shop in prints (sizes 11×14, 8×10, and 5×7 – matted or not) and greeting cards, like below.  For those friends who are local, my daughter-in-law (who makes beautiful rustic wood pallet signs) and I also have our art on display and available at Berry Vine Gifts in BradfordWoods, PA.  You can find all of our information here.

  

Look for Harper the Happy Hippo in my next post here at The CreativeLifeInBetween, which is scheduled to post Tuesday.

By the way, if you are interested in a custom watercolor painting of an animal character for a child you love, you can order via our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop at this link.  Let me know the child’s name and the animal you would like.  It will be an 11×14 original watercolor painting.  If you would like an original rhyming poem to go with it, that can also be ordered for an additional charge.  It will come printed on an 8.5×11 sturdy cardstock sheet that can also be framed.  Please allow two weeks for any custom orders.

My artwork can also be made into pillows and clocks and coasters and mugs and tote bags and a lot of other fun things – all available at Society6.  Let me know if there is a piece you like that I should add there.

Lucas the Lion Pillow

I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of this new year and settling back into your normal routines after the busy holiday season.  It was good to undecorate from the holidays yesterday and find time to paint again.

Happy Sunday!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

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

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies.

It’s December, and that means time to start Christmas cookie baking!

These cookies are a wonderful version of pecan pie in a cookie!

They are similar to Pecan Tassies, but a lot easier.

The cookie is buttery and shortbread-like, while the filling is nutty and sticky and sweet and AMAZING!

I had a little bit of extra filling left that I just couldn’t throw away, so I spread it on a sheet of crescent roll dough, rolled it up, and sliced it into 8 easier-than-pie pecan “sticky buns!”

So
worth
it!

Hope you will give these yummy cookies a try for something new on your Christmas cookie baking list.  I do believe these will become a regular in our home!

Here is the recipe I found at  Crazy for Crust, which I only slightly altered.  Thanks for a great recipe, Dorothy!

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Batter:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pecan Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse or flaked salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 Tbsp. Half and Half or Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Optional:  Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top of cooled cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in electric mixer until creamy.   Add in baking powder, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until well combined.

Shape dough, two tablespoons at a time, into balls, and place the balls two inches apart on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Indent a hole in center with your thumb.

Prepare filling by stirring pecans, salt, brown sugar, and vanilla with cream until it forms a thick mixture.  Spoon approximately one teaspoonful into thumb indentation of each cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on stone or cookie sheet before removing to rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cookies freeze well for up to a month.

Enjoy!

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

Reflections of Thanksgiving

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Babies growing too quickly.
A loved one’s final day.
Family time together.
Thoughts of family apart.

Sons have become men
that make us gleam with pride.
Daughter in laws grow dearer
with each passing year.

Hubby’s smoked turkey
woos the crowd again.
Granddaughter’s first apple pie
sweetens meal’s end.

Pumpkin pie for breakfast
with a bestie and “our” mom.
Cocktails with our faves
to consummate a just-right day.

Waists growing thicker.
Hair becoming greyer.
Embracing the vulnerability.
Loving fiercely.

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Getting Ready

Bunny’s First Woodland Christmas Watercolor – 11×14

Getting Ready.

My DIL and “biz partner,” Colleen, and I have been busy getting ready for an event this coming weekend for McKinneyX2Designs – the Mars Craft Show.

For those of you not from Mars :), it’s really a bigger event than you can imagine, and we are fortunate to be a part of it!

Colleen is been busy making these adorable little trees and festive holiday signs.

While I’ve been busy painting

Dancing Penguin Watercolor 11×14

and printing

and folding

and boxing.

We are excited to share our joy!  The Mars Craft Show features hundreds of local artisans spread out between the Mars Middle School and Mars High School (where you can find us – in the Auxilliary Gym).  A shuttle bus runs all day between the two buildings between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

In addition to this event, we have two special birthdays coming up for a Pap Pap and granddaughter who share the same birthday.  I also have a short overnight business trip this week, so a lot going on.

I’m going to take a few days off from blogging, so if you don’t hear from me, know I am just busy and having fun and will be back soon.

If you like what you see here and are local, we hope you will visit us at the Mars Craft Show or Christmas in the Woods at Berry Vine Gifts this weekend.  If you are not local, please visit our Etsy shop or our website for more information.

Back to getting ready!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi