A Valentine Couples Camp Party


This past weekend, a gang of our bestie couple friends got together to celebrate love and friendship.

My McHendy “sister,’ Jill, and I collaborated to plan what we called “Valentine’s Couple Camp.”

Those of you that have been hanging around here at TheCreativeLifeinBetween for a while might remember our first Couple Camp Weekend Retreat that I posted about here.

Unfortunately, we missed a year… I guess weddings, babies, life… got us too involved.  But when Jill called a couple weeks ago and said we should do another Couples Camp for Valentine’s Day, I was all in and offered to host at our home.

And so we did.

Bubby and Glenn were assigned appetizers, and boy did they rock the theme!  Check out all the ways you can make food into hearts!





I created a special “Love Potion” cocktail to toast the beginning of our time together.  I mixed 1/3 Grand Marnier Signature Collection No. 2 Raspberry Peach with 2/3 champagne and garnished with a fresh red raspberry.  Yum!



Jill is our illustrious “camp” activities director.  After a silly group photo,


Jill and I sent the rest of the gang to the bar, while we laid out the all the materials for everyone to create their own “Love Shack” out of chocolate graham crackers and candy (a Valentine gingerbread house of sorts).  Everyone was given a flag to name their Love Shack and 20 pennies to distribute into shot glasses after everyone finished and presented their masterpieces to vote on the best.


We had some serious creativity going on.  Check it out!



Hubby made his into “Camp Happy Beginning” reminiscent of the early days of love and not having much but feeling like everything is a rainbow …. or something like that… if you can imagine…


Mary made hers into “Mary’s Cozy Cottage” decorated with a comfy couch and chairs and a big colorful outdoor patio…


I was much busier laughing and taking pictures under the guise of “hosting” to focus too much on mine, but came up with this pretty lame “McKinney Love Shack.”


Bubby lovingly created the “McKinney B&B.”


and her Glenn created “Glen’s Gang Bang Getaway.”  No explanation here.  You can use your own imagination.


Jim cracked us up with his creation. Simple, but with a funny and politically-inspired statement.  His “American” themed love shack had three characters involved…  “I’m a Russian” on his way to the love shack, “Himalyan” in the love shack, and “He’s a Finnish” leaving the love shack…


Jill’s was a fabulous “Jill’s Sweet Shack” with a candy paved lane.


But Todd stole the show with his outhouse-themed love shack complete with cut out crescent moon doors.


We assigned Mary the entree knowing she would make all of our tummies happy, and she did not disappoint!  In fact, we were so into her amazing stuffed shells, meatballs and spare ribs in homemade Italian sauce, I forgot to photograph it!  Thankfully, she left a few for us to enjoy for dinner the next day, so I took a quick photo of our leftovers.  Which, by the way, tasted just as magnificent!  Thanks Mar!


I made a simple salad and sliced up some fresh bread to accompany Mary’s entree,


and we gave another toast to friendship!


I had fun preparing for our guests by tidying up the guest rooms,



including a quick convert of the nursery with an air mattress bed,


and placing heart-shaped Dove Red Velvet Chocolates on pillows.


I set the table with red plates and chocolate heart treats…



and even little heart shaped spoons!


Aren’t they adorable!

I was assigned dessert,  so a chocolating I went.  You already know about my chocolate-dipped wafer cookies and Ultimate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies which I had out, but I also made a bouquet of chocolate-dipped strawberries,


and the most amazing and simple No Bake Chocolate Ganache Cookie Crust Tart I saw on another blog.



I’ll share this recipe soon.  It is seriously amazing and uses only a couple simple ingredients!

We talked the guys into playing Couples Scattegories and had fun staying up late drinking and talking until later than any of us ever stay up.

Hubby made omelets to order the next morning after we all awoke… later than we usually get up.


What a joy to have such wonderful friends to share time and our home with!

And quoting Jill from last time, I once again share:

“I recommend that all of our friends coordinate a Couple’s Camp weekend. Great fun. Lots of laughter. Many life stories shared. And the realization that life long friends and connections are priceless! So go make some memories!”

Thanks for the memories dear friends!

Cheers & Hugs,

Bingo has been Called: Our Love Story

Bingo Heart

34th anniversary watercolor heart card

Some couples meet at bars or through friends at parties or in college classes or through on-line dating sites.

I met my hubby at Bingo!

Yep – – – Bingo.

Bingo has been called… hold your cards…. We have a winner!  (Anyone who has ever attended Bingo has heard the “Bingo Caller” state this phrase.)

On Friday, I shared that hubby and I are celebrating our 34th anniversary this weekend.  This is the card I made for him, and I thought I would share the story of how we met.

As many of you know, my Grandma was a very special person in my life.  I lived with her for a while when I was a young girl, I spent long summer vacations at her house growing up, and even as a teenager and old enough to drive, I would visit her and sleep over just to spend time with one of my favorite people on the entire planet.

So one summer evening, 16-year old Jodi went to visit Grandma.

Grandma had a very dear friend and neighbor named Audrey, who we would often visit together.   Sometimes we played cards at her kitchen table and nibbled on snacks.  Other times we sat on her back porch and told stories and jokes while watching fireflies and listening to “oldies” music.

Audrey was a mom and a grandma who had developed Multiple Sclerosis and was wheel-chair bound, but she always had a bright smile and a cheerful disposition.  She had a family who cherished her, and she was such a good friend to Grandma.  Audrey’s husband treated her like a princess – taking over many of the chores Audrey once did, helping her bathe and get dressed, making sure her hair was done just right and assuring she was powdered and perfumed and sparkling with jewelry.

On a weekly basis, Audrey’s husband would lift Audrey into the seat of the family car, load the wheelchair in the trunk, and then pick up Grandma (who never learned to drive), and take the ladies grocery shopping and out to eat at the local diner and run any other weekly errands that needed done.   Sometimes it was Grandma’s only trip out of the house for the week since she was widowed, and Grandpap, her “chauffeur” was gone.

So this particular summer evening, the ladies wanted to go to Bingo.  16-year old Jodi was talked into driving them and playing along, as Audrey’s husband had no interest in playing this “silly” game.

Bingo was held weekly at the local firehall to raise money for the volunteer organization to buy trucks and equipment and pay the bills needed to support the firehouse.  Marty (pre-hubby) was a 20-year old volunteer fireman working the bingo that evening.

Now not many 16 year old girls attended bingo.  Average age was closer to 61.  So when 16-year old Jodi showed up struggling to lift a wheelchair out of the trunk of her lime green Chevy Vega, and Marty was on parking lot duty, well……. fate was about to take a twist….

Seeing the struggling young girl, Marty came to the rescue and lifted the chair and Audrey into the seat and wheeled her into the firehall like a knight in shining armor.  Grandma smiled, and little did I know……………..


Bingo was played.

Rows and rows of cardboard cards were covered with shiny copper pennies or red plastic markers in a room filled with smoke and overflowing ashtrays and the smell of sauerkraut and hot dogs tantalizing the taste buds.

None of us won, but we had fun.  It’s kind of hard to win playing only one card when the “pros” kept shushing us so they could hear the caller and keep track of the 16 cards spread out in front of them.

When it was time to go, Sir Marty, with his shining smile and twinkling eyes as armor, swooped over to us ready to push the wheelchair out through the gravel parking lot, making even more points with Grandma and Audrey.

Once the wheelchair was loaded and Audrey safely placed in her seat, Grandma decided it was time to take action.

“You are a very nice young man,” she told Marty.  “Why don’t you ask my granddaughter out on a date?”

APPALLED and mouth hanging open in horror, I smacked my Grandma with the back of my hand on her arm.  (So sorry Grandma – it was a gut reaction!)  Marty laughed….. nervously…… and used a line he later told me he had been waiting to use on just the right young lady.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he said without a blink or drip of sweat.

“Come back to bingo next week, and if you don’t win, I’ll take you out to dinner,” he swooned with those dreamy blue 20-year old grown-up man eyes looking right into mine.

“We’ll see,” or something like that, was all 16-year old Jodi could stammer in her best effort to be coy.

“By the way,” he continued, “Don’t you work at Murphy’s Mart?”

WHAT???!!!  How did he know this???

You see….  Future hubby had already “noticed” me in the world!

Turns out 20-year old Marty used to work at Murphy’s Mart himself, before he became a professional electrician, so he often stopped in to shop and visit old friends.  Apparently, he had spotted me there and remembered.

I stammered something unintelligibly stupid I’m certain, and we drove off.

A few days later, as I was straightening shoes in the Murphy’s Mart shoe department where I worked part-time after school, I spy Sir Marty in the distrance wandering my way.

YIKES!  I hid!  I went back into the stockroom and only peaked out until he was gone.  (Okay – remember – I was only 16!)

The next week, Grandma and Audrey showed up for Bingo again, but to Marty’s disappointment – no Jodi….  (I actually did have to work that evening, and the ladies talked someone else into taking them.)

But then, when the time came for the Winner-takes-All Jackpot Bingo – the last game of the evening, a young girl showed up – swiftly sweeping into the room and sitting in an empty seat that just happened to be available next to Grandma in the crowded room.  Grandma’s card just happened to be pushed in front of Jodi since she had to excuse herself to the ladies’ room- just in time for Jodi to play one card for one game – and lose………

Grandma came back and called Marty over.

“She didn’t win,” Grandma declared in a challenging voice…..


The following week was a first date.

Three years later was a wedding….

with a reception in the very same firehall where bingo was held and the young loves met.

Marty Grandma and Jodi wedding day

Marty, Grandma, and Jodi – Wedding Day

And 37 years later, I believe Grandma’s spirit is still smiling…

Bingo has been called.  And I hit the Jackpot!

Cheers & Hugs,

Favorite Pairs

pear watercolor

A partial list of favorite pairs:

  • Bert & Ernie
  • Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
  • Simon & Garfunkel
  • Wine & Cheese
  • Lucy & Ethel
  • Chips & Guacamole
  • Falling Snow & Warm Fires
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Movies & Popcorn
  • Beaches & Sunrises
  • Beaches & Sunsets
  • Dark Coffee & Italian Sweet Cream
  • Paint & Paper
  • Milk Chocolate & Caramel
  • White Chocolate and Peanut Butter
  • Dark Chocolate & Raspberry
  • Hugs & Kisses
  • Friends & Laughter
  • Family & Time Together
  • Chubby Cheeks & Tiny Toes
  • Wrinkled Cheeks & Words of Wisdom

After practicing a few more watercolor skies last evening (and feeling frustrated!…  Why are skies so hard for me??!), I decided to do something that made me happy, so I just took a small piece of watercolor paper and did a quick, free and easy abstract pear in some of my favorite colors – letting the colors blend and do their thing.  I could then relax happy, and it made me think of some of my favorite pears pairs.

Do you have some favorite pairs?

Cheers & Hugs,

A Carnival Baby Shower for Jackie & Matt


Oh what fun we had planning, preparing, and celebrating the soon-to-arrive Baby Ben with our McHendy daughter and son-in-law, Jackie & Matt.

I was designated the “official” photographer, so get ready for lots of photos.  I was so busy worrying about capturing it and so busy just enjoying it, that it is just now hitting me, after I shared the photos with Jackie (and she posted on her Facebook page), how close I am to being an “almost” grandma!

When Jackie shared the photos, she wrote:

Matt and I have always hoped we could welcome our baby boy into a community of people who will love, encourage, and support him. On Saturday, we were shown a million times over that we without a doubt have that for our baby boy, Ben. Thank you to everyone who braved the snowstorm and made it out to the shower. We are so blessed for all of you (and for all the people who couldn’t make it)! A special thanks to my mom,Jill Henderson, my mother-in-law, Carol Kallis, my future sister-in-law, Becca Cura, and my second mom, Jodi McKinney for throwing us one creative, awesome shower!!

So for the past half hour ( I am drafting this Sunday evening), I’ve been bawling happy tears and cherishing these very special moments.

I hope you enjoy viewing these photos as much as we had in creating and being a part of them.

(If you click on the first – or any one of the pics – you can scroll through the photos in full size.)

Cheers & Hugs,