The Sparkly Magic of the Season

Sparkly Trees in Pink and Blue Original Watercolor Jodi McKinney 11x14

Sparkly Trees in Pink and Blue – Original Watercolor Jodi McKinney 11×14

The Sparkly Magic of the Season.

Are you feeling it friends?
Are you feeling the sparkly magic of the season?
Christmas is only eight days away!
But the magic is here already.
Do you feel it too?

Don’t miss it.

Don’t get too caught up
in what you feel you “have” to do…
in what you “have” to buy…
in what you “have” to bake…
in what you “have” to accomplish.

Relish the magic
that is all around!

To me, the magic is now….
in these days that lead up to Christmas and New Year.
The excitement…
The anticipation!
Oh how I wish we could bottle it to sprinkle on everyone throughout the year!

I went to the post office this afternoon.
The line was longer than I have ever seen it –
and I go almost ever day.
But people were smiling and laughing and cheerful –
those that worked behind the counter –
and those I stood in line and chatted with.
Customers balanced stacks of packages in their arms.
Postal workers kindly explained options.
Friends and strangers chatted.

I visited my son and grandie girls for a brief time
on my way home from work
like I do most every Monday afternoon.
We danced and sang.
We snuggled and hugged.
They dug through my purse with expectant anticipation
of treats they knew they would find.
And then they decided – for the first time ever –
to send home a piece of one of their treats
to their Pap, who they love…
and who loves them back more dearly
than he could ever express,
but we all know.

I went to the grocery store after work.
Sam, a high school junior at a local private Christian school,
was my check-out attendant.
He asked me what special plans I had for the holiday,
and he shared his.
He told me he would be taking the test for his driver’s license
the day after Christmas,
so it was either going to be a Merry Christmas
or a disappointing one,
but he had been practicing his parallel parking with his Dad
and was feeling confident.
He was also studying for mid-terms
and telling me how much he enjoyed music and the arts.
And while we were talking,
a voice from behind –
cheerful and surprised –
told him she was glad to hear he was studying…
and didn’t know he worked here.
She was his high school music teacher.

When I arrived home,
the mail contained colorful envelopes
and tightly sealed packages…
cards and letters from friends and relatives
and a box filled with juicy grapefruits and crisp apples,
bright oranges and ripe pears…
All delivered from a mail carrier
who always takes the time to chat
and scratch Charlie’s ears…
even when his day is running hours later than usual.

This painting
is a product of a late night visit to my art room.
I was feeling the magic,
and I painted my feelings.
Do you feel it?
I sure hope so!

Feel the sparkly magic of the season!
It is as special as a pink or blue or turquoise tree
found in a magical forest…
or in an art room…
or on a piece of paper…
or in your heart.

Don’t miss it!

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Easy Festive Thin Mint Cookies

Easy Festive Thin Mint Cookies.

Do you do holiday cookie baking?

Are you a traditionalist where you do the same cookies each year or do you like to try new and different things?

I’m a little of both.  There are some things that I feel it just wouldn’t be the holidays without…

Like Grandma’s Apricot Nut Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Homemade Chex Mix, and Apricot Kolaches.

But I love to try new things.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for spending hours in the kitchen…

and sometimes I want to bake/not bake.  You know what I mean?

That is how I was feeling yesterday, so when I saw this TWO-INGREDIENT, No Bake “Cookie” recipe, I had to give it a try.

And wow did they deliver!  It is crazy how they taste exactly like Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies!

It’s really barely a “recipe,” but here is how you make them.

Easy Festive Thin Mint Cookies

Ingredients:

Directions:

Melt Andes Mint Chocolates.  Dip Ritz Crackers in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle with festive sprinkles if desired.  Allow to dry on waxed paper.

If you are looking for something quick and easy that everyone will love, I hope you will try these.  Enjoy!

Cheers & Ho Ho Holiday Hugs,
Jodi

Above All this Bustle

Above All this Bustle.

It’s early Friday morning,
and I have a day off work.

I woke up early just to soak in
some extra hours.

I could be (should be?)….
– wrapping
– baking
– shopping
– cleaning….

The list could surely go on.

But instead…
I turned on the lights of the tree,
poured a cup of coffee,
sat down and caught myself singing Silver Bells.

Remember to be kind to yourself.
Be good to you and to others.
It’s not about all the bustle.

If you sit quietly….
If you put your heart in the right place…

Above all this bustle – you’ll hear…
Silver Bells.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Dreaming of a Pink Christmas Tree


Pink Watercolor Christmas Tree 11×14

Dreaming of a Pink Christmas Tree.

I woke up wide eyed early Saturday morning with a burning desire to paint a pink Christmas tree…

I had a busy day ahead.  I was assigned to work a few hours at Berry Vine Gifts (the local gift shop where my DIL and I have our McKinneyX2Designs shop) and plans to visit Santa with my grandie girls.  I wanted to get a nice walk in with Charlie too.

But first…. I had to paint.

I had to paint this pink Christmas tree.

I painted it with layers of three pink watercolors – Opera Pink, Rhodonite Genuine, and Permanent Rose.  I started with a little wet in wet after lightly spritzing the paper with water and spritzed a little more after adding the layers.

I then went for a walk.  Stepping away to let it dry and let the watercolor magic happen is sometimes the hardest part, but it is also often so rewarding!

The thing with watercolor painting (that is so different from acrylic or oils) is that what you first paint is not how it will look once dried.  It can be frustrating (for impatient peeps like me), but it is also the fun and fascinating part of the art.

Once the pink watercolor was dry, I splattered some Inka Gold “ornaments” and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White “snow” on the tree.

I totally envisioned this painting framed in gold, so in between my time at Berry Vine and our visit with Santa, I cruised through Home Goods where I found some beautiful gold frames that I wanted to try with prints of this painting.

Then today, with a full festive heart, I processed some prints and created some greeting cards from my dream of a pink Christmas tree.

I absolutely adore it!

I imagine there will be some who don’t “feel it” or don’t like a pink Christmas tree, but that is the beauty of art.

As I mature in my art journey, I am really seeking to paint what I love and what I feel in my heart rather than painting for what (I think) others will like.  There will always be those that like and dislike…. love or hate….  but that is what makes art so wonderful.

I’ve added this piece – the original – as well as prints and cards – to our McKinneyX2 Etsy shop if you are interested.

May YOUR Christmas dreams come true….
kinda like my little dream of a pink Christmas tree.

Cheers & Hugs,
Josi

 

 

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