Watercolor Boats in Marina at Sunset

Boats in Marina at Sunset Watercolor 11x14 Fabriano Artistico 140lb Cold Press

Watercolor Boats in Marina at Sunset.

The other evening, I felt like painting something different.  I found a very talented watercolor artist on Youtube, Tim Wilmont, from the UK, who generously shares his talent via Youtube demos,online classes, and workshops (if you are fortunate enough to live near him or be able to travel to Venice or Tuscany to attend one of his week-long workshops).

Well – since Venice or Tuscany are not in my near future, I settled for watching Tim's live demo of boats and tried my hand at it.

The painting above was my second go at it.  The first is torn in half, and the back will be used for warm ups or color testing.  This second one, though nothing near the talent of Tim, feels pretty good for me.

I learned a lot watching Tim (twice)!  I long for the day when I will have the natural gift to know where to leave white and light so instinctively and how best to balance blending colors.  And drawing is the first challenge for me, but I did it.

Thanks, Tim.  I look forward to watching more of your tutorials, and maybe someday – just maybe – I'll see you in Venice!  (A girl can dream can't she??!!)

My painting is for sale in our McKinneyX2Designs ETSY shop, and if it doesn't sell before September 9th, I'll be taking it to our FIRST EVER McKinneyX2Designs booth display and showing at the Lake Latonka Fall Festival!

Colleen, my daughter-in-law, (who makes extraordinary rustic signs and crafts from reclaimed pallet wood – like these autumn signs and adorable pumpkins!)

and I are excited to participate in this Festival, which is in it's 38th year.  If you live anywhere nearby, we hope you will come visit!

What I did with this painting (and what I do with most all) is make it available for sale as an original and in 8×10 and 5×7 prints, which are printed on soft, 100% cotton watercolor rag paper that look almost like an original.

Boats in Marina at Sunset Watercolor 11x14 Original Matted and Framed

I also make my watercolor prints into cards on Solar White 80lb Super Smooth Card Stock and box them in sets with envelopes and tiny gold bows.

Check us out on Facebook or Etsy or visit us in person at the Festival next month!  We'll be the ones who are laughing loud and having fun!

Cheers & Hugs,

Come Fly Away

Hot Air Balloon WPA Balloonfest 1

Come fly away with me

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to a place we want to be

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up high in the cottony clouds

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where anything is allowed

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where soft winds blow

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and spirits glow

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where life is free

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for he and she and me

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we’ll take flight

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toward the light

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and smile and laugh and sing

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in a basket tied with string

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we will float

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in our air-filled boat

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with the utmost ease

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in the gentle breeze

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and leave behind

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the ties that bind.

A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I spent a Saturday evening watching a multitude of hot air balloons lift off and fly away at the Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest in New Castle, PA.  The weather was a bit “iffy,” and take-offs were delayed, but Mother Nature cooperated, to our great fortune, and we were able to experience this beauty.

I’m a bit of a ninny poo poo when it comes to daring adventures of height like this, but oh how I wish I were brave enough.  Maybe some day.  For now, it was lovely to experience from the ground and dream of far away places that can only be reached by going where the gentle wind blows us.

Cheers & Hugs,


Annual Krautfest Time


For our gang, one of the best things about Autumn is the Annual Brugnoli Friends and Family Krautfest (maybe you remember last year’s), and this past weekend delivered beautiful weather for our festivities!

We started with a crisp, foggy morning that included a beautiful breakfast buffet at Sandy and Bill’s, where most of the gang hung out to watch the annual Conneaut Lake Fall Festival Parade (and the rest of us served as candy passer-outers and parade marchers for our Boro Council candidate, dear “Oh Rob” Brugnoli.

parade 1

parade 2

kf rob boro council

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After the parade, we hurried home to prepare for the Kraut-making festivities.  Halupkis and Pierogies and Brauts and Dogs in Kraut simmering, while we set up stations to make 800 pounds worth of cabbage into the world’s best homemade saurkraut in the warm Autumn sunshine.

Stations were set up… and then began…

the cutting…

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and the slicing and shredding…

kf shredders

then measuring and weighing…

kf louis and louise

kf measuring

(…and always time for a mother-daughter pose)…

kf cindy louise
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then finally stomping and pounding.

kf pounding

and laughing…

kf all betsy carl stomping laughing

and composting.
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Older generations taught younger generations…

kf roddy mason

kf cutting more

kf nikole shreddingkf cuttersand friends taught friends.

kf holly slices

kf holly

More laughs…
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kf rob and al

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lots of hugs… and giving thanks.

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Pumpkins were painted…

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kf kids painting pumpkins

Swings were swung…

kf kids swing

and laughter filled the air.
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Treasures were searched for…
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and discovered.

kf ella treasure skeleton

kf kids hay skeleton find

Lots of delicious food was eaten…

kf pretzels

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and YES – these cookies consist of three amazing layers: chocolate chip cookie topped with Oreo cookie topped with brownie!

kf brownies

Delicious, intoxicating beverages were enjoyed.

kf bourbon apple cide

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Hot peppers were sauteed and served on fresh crusty bread by friendly “witches” and warlocks.

kf doreen peppers

Families were celebrated.

kf jenna rob noah


kf noah

kf ed grandaughter 2


kf michael beer 2

We even brewed beer!

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krautfest bowling

It was a day full of memories… and moments…

krautfest greenhouse

and people… and music…

kf bango

and love… to be cherished.

kf view of lake
Cheers & Hugs,

Apple Fritter Cake

apple fritter cake

It’s the beginning of apple harvesting season in our little corner of the world and today is actually the annual Mars Applefest.

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With apples and cinnamon on the brain this week, I wanted to make something special for dessert when my friend, Janet, was coming over for dinner.  I’m getting sad that she will soon be heading south for the winter, so trying to enjoy the few weeks we have left.

I found a recipe for Apple Fritter Bundt Cake from Crumbs in My Mustachio that was just what I was looking for.

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Who doesn’t love an apple fritter?!  And made into a yummy cake to share?? …. Well – that sounded heavenly.

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Oh – and was it ever!!!  We all LOVED it!  I know I will make this one again!  Here is the recipe as I slightly adapted.

Apple Fritter Cake

Ingredients:apple fritter cake 3

  • 4 large apples, peeled and chopped (I used golden delicious)
  • 2/3 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour bundt cake pan.
  • In medium bowl, mix together peeled, chopped apples, 3 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside to let sugar and cinnamon liquefy with apple juice.
  • In a small bowl, blend together 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.
  • With electric mixer, cream together 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter.  Add eggs, on at a time, blending well, then add vanilla.  When well creamed together, add 2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 cups flour.  When well blended, add milk slowly until all incorporated.
  • Add half of apple mixture to prepared bundt pan.  Top with half of brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Top that with half of the batter.  Repeat with other halves.
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes until done.
  • Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto plate to continue cooling.
  • Make glaze by mixing powdered sugar with 1-2 Tbsp milk, until you achieve desired consistency.  Drizzle on top of warm cake.

This cake is AMAZING warm and cold.  I refrigerated leftovers and loved it cold from the fridge.


Cheers & Hugs,

Covered Bridge Visiting & Doodlewashing

covered bridge watercolor doodlewash

This weekend, hubby and I went to a Covered Bridge Festival.  There were ten park festival locations centered around  ten different covered bridges where they had a variety of handmade arts and crafts booths, food, historic re-enactments, demonstrations and live bands.

It was fun to stroll around the festivities and capture some photos of the bridges.  We only made it to two, because we really didn’t decide to go or head out until mid-afternoon, but we enjoyed what we did see, and then ended the day with a nice dinner out.

The next day I decided to try to “doodlewash” one.  My blogging buddy, Charlie at Doodlewash.com has stirred my creative desire to play around with this whimsical art style combining doodling and watercoloring.

I struggle with the doodling/drawing part, and then I totally overworked the washing/watercoloring part of this piece, but since I spent an hour and a half doing it, I am sharing anyway.  (Chalk it up to one for the archives.  Hopefully one to look back on to gauge improvement!)

Here is the photo I took that I used for my reference.   It was such a sweet little bridge in a quaint community park.

covered bridge

And then, with some paint still in the palette and the urge to do something else, I decided to recreate a version of the DSP (designer series paper) I used in yesterday’s card post and made this piece below that I can use in a future card or project.  It was fun to mix and splash and see how the colors dried.   Loving the Autumn tones that remind me of the gorgeous weather we’ve been having these past few days!

color wash swash

Happy Monday all!  Hope you have a great week!

Cheers & Hugs,


Lake Erie Wine Country 2014 Harvest Celebration

wine tour 1

After a Friday evening with the gang of “The Best Book Club Ever,” Marty and I got to join some of our favorite fun peeps for a Lake Erie Wine Country Harvest Celebration in New York.

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It was a crisp Fall day,

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but we couldn’t have felt warmer bopping around from winery to winery, tasting and sipping with this gang of folks we love dearly.

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We managed to visit 8 or 9 wineries between noon and 5 pm.

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Each winery – some quite simple  – others more elaboate – had their own individual style, appeal, taste, smell, and “feel.”

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Each one also served a lovely food pairing along with 4 or 5 samples of their best wines.

We ate everything from lasagna soup at our first stop at Liberty Vineyards and Winery to sliced tenderloin on garlic crostini with roasted red pepper aioli at our last stop at Presque Isle Wine Cellars.

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We learned about grape varietals and the fermentation process.

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Packaging sure sells – eh?  These bottles made me think of our dear Jake Henderson, who will be shipping off to the Navy soon.  We are so thrilled to get to have him here for Thanksgiving this year.

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Marty sure had a good time.  He loves spending time with this gang as much as I do.  We are so blessed to have Joyce and Rob, Kathleen and Jack, and Laurie and Ed in our lives.  We have learned and experienced so much from sharing time with this group of retired school teachers experiencing life to its fullest.

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Each winery had it’s own personality, as did their wines.

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My favorite wine of all was at 21 Brinx Winery, where we bought several bottles of the 2012 Noiret.

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But I couldn’t resist getting some photos of the wines names after our dear Ella 🙂

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Marty fell in love with Ports and bought several from different wineries.

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The absolute BEST hospitality and our favorite “snack” of chicken and biscuits was at Willow Creek Winery.  You know the old adage: “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover?”  Well – it sure rang true here.  Marty bought an entire case of assorted reds, whites and Port here, and the people were the sweetest, kindest, and most generous of all.  Keep up the great work Willow Creek!

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Until next time – –

Cheers & Hugs,


Fall Christmas Shenanigans

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It was a girl’s field trip day on Saturday to Northeast Ohio for Christmas in the Woods!

Yep – more Christmas shenanigans!

What fun we had getting our Christmas crafting inspiration and shopping on.

Then, we topped our day off with a card-making / stamping class and dinner at Selah Restaurant in The Vault!

Check out the fun atmosphere that Shakerwoods turns into for Christmastime – 20 years strong now – – –  but my first time.

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It was a cool day with sprinkles off and on, but that made it all the more “Fall” like and got us in the Christmasy spirit.

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It was Colleen’s first trip to any kind of Arts & Crafts Festival like this.  She loved it, and I loved having her along!  We have such similar tastes and interests that make it so much fun to be mother and daughter “in-law!”

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We had a ton of fun with some of my old Middle School friends, Janet and Judi – and pretty much acted like we were back in Middle School.

Well – maybe just I did!

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The trip was organized by my friend, Stacey Ailes, who is a Stampin Up Artist Extraordinaire (check out her website/blog if you haven’t already).  Stacey did an amazing job corralling 11 women for a 14-hour day of adventure.

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Colleen immediately spotted The Burlap Factory and ran so fast over to it, I could hardly get her picture!  LOL!  🙂


The whole experience and scenery was just breathtaking.  From the little Chapel in the Woods…

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to the little Shaker School House….

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where Colleen found the outhouse, but alas someone was already in it.  (She is such a sport for posing and going along with my silly shenanigans!)  ❤

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Janet spotted this beauty for me to capture along our walk.

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The day was filled with beautiful scenery, tasty treats, and all kinds of fun and friendly people…

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Like this cute couple who were willing to stop and pose for a photo in their fun hats…

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or this lovely lady who I asked how she could eat ice cream on such a chilly day.   I came to find it was a Steamy BBQ Chicken and Mashed Potato “Sundae” with a cherry tomato on top, of course!

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One of the highlights of the trip for many of the ladies was a B.E. Taylor concert right smack in the middle of all the action where the beautiful Christmas music could be heard echoing throughout the woods.

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We bought some fun things and got a lot more great ideas.  We’ll see if the ideas come to fruition…

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The wonderful guys at the Great Harvest Bread Company had the cutest bench by their booth that said, “If you Knead to sit or just Loaf, please rest your Buns here.”  Since they were kind enough to let me take a photo, of course I had to buy some bread.  Italian Herb for me, and cinnamon swirl for Marty.  (and oh by the way – DELISH!)


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We passed on the fried pickles and fried snickers, but did enjoy an awesome reuben sandwich and sat with some folks who live right in our own hometown and are regulars on a different night at our hometown John’s Bar – so maybe we’ll see them again soon!


After getting inspired by the amazing crafters and talent, nourished body and soul with food and music, and spending enough money…

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We ventured out of the woods and drove to Selah Restaurant in Struthers, about 20 minutes away.

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What an awesome venue!  Graced with art, photography and design, Selah is located in a turn-of-the-century bank with a rich history that gives it a unique and charming character.

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Stacey had reserved “The Vault” for our special class and dinner.

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It was such a unique experience to sit in the charming setting of the old vault of the bank.

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Selah kept a lot of the original architecture of the bank, including the teller windows, adding such unforgettable charm.

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The Vault was softly lit with a dozen or more candles, which was wonderful for our dining experience, but a tad challenging for our crafting time.

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But it was way too cute and quaint for us to complain about that since we loved the atmosphere – and the company!

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Stacey does such a phenomenal job teaching newbie, beginning stampers (of which we had four) and challenging some of us more experienced with new ideas and techniques.  I sure admire Stacey’s talent, gift of teaching and sharing, and kind and generous heart.

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What made it EVEN MORE FUN was the fact that I got to see an “old” friend from a few years ago when the company I work for had an office in Northeast Ohio.  Charlotte and I have kept in touch through Facebook, and she has become a follower of my blog as well as a fan of Stacey’s talent.  When Stacey came up with this idea, her and Charlotte connected on this venue, and they created all this wonderful magic.

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Charlotte brought her forever BFF, and my new friend :), Carol.  They were adorable together.  They cannot remember a time when they weren’t friends.  You see, their parents were neighbors and they grew up together, went to school together, married high school sweethearts and still live only a couple blocks apart.

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These were their very first cards they made.  They did an awesome job, kept us smiling, and really enjoyed stamping.

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Judi also made her first card Saturday.  Here and Janet buddied up working on their projects.  Judi loved it so much, she wants to join our regular monthly classes at Stacey’s studio, so we are excited to welcome her.

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Here’s Charlotte doing her first embossing, and these three chickadees were our seasoned pros!  Cindy has a great website and blog if you want to check out here amazing talent here.  I always appreciate Stephanie’s kind encouragement and comments.  Nancy is a new friend I made that is married to a long-time friend and work acquaintance of Marty (such a small world!)

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We laughed our way through the evening.  (I was even hoarse by the time I got home!)

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And of course we had to finish off the evening with some pumpkin cheesecake and carrot cakes to tide us over for the hour-long trip home!

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Fun times with great ladies…

at life in between.

Cheers & Hugs,