After the Rain

After the Rain.

After the rain,
we walked at the park.

The grass was greener,
the air was fresh and clean.

The sun warmed,
and the blossoming trees popped

almost as if they were
smiling with the joy they knew I felt.

My heart swelled a wee bit more
like it so often does

in moments spent
with my grandie girls.

Mommy told Grandie Girl 1
about the time she spent playing ball on this field,

and asked her if she thought she
would want to do the same some day.

The sweet, high-pitched voice
in the miniature, but too-fast growing body,

responded so excitedly
and affirmatively

like she most always does,
wanting to be just like mommy.

And I smile at both of them with their muddy shoes
from the stop we made along the walk to float dandelions in the creek.

I steal a glance at Grandie Girl 2,
who is grinning and squealing with delight

as if to affirm her agreement
and wanting to be just like her big sister.

These are the moments…
the sweet precious moments.

After the rain.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Buttermilk Pound Cake.

I am a total sucker for pound cake!

So Friday – after a long, difficult week – I decided to do some baking therapy and teach my 16-month old granddaughter how to bake her first cake.  It was so fun to put her sweet little apron on for the first time that was a baby gift from a kind friend who knew it would surely get a lot of use.

We made this AMAZING pound cake from a recipe recently shared with me by a dear blog-following friend, Dena, who originally found it from Taste of Home.

The original recipe called for using 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Dena changed it up by using almond  and lemon extract.  I tweaked it a smidge further by using fresh lemon zest and lemon juice.  Dena makes hers in two loaf pans (which you surely can too – and adjust the baking time to 40-50 mins), but we made ours in a fluted Bundt pan and enjoyed with some fresh strawberries.

This recipe is so wonderful.  It is not super heavy like many pound cakes.  In fact, it is almost a bit light and airy.  But it is also dense enough to be super moist.  I love the way the edges turned out a bit crispy and the center moist and tender.

My granddaughter loved it too, so she got to take half of it home to share with Mommy and Daddy.

It snow flurried most of the day and was so cold, so it was the perfect day for us to hang out, have the oven on for an hour, and enjoy the aroma and taste of this delicious, comforting cake.

Thanks so much for sharing Dena!  This recipe is a real winner!

Buttermilk Pound Cake

  • Servings: approx. 16
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Lemon – zest of whole, juice of half (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar left to sit for 5 min.)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting on top

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Beat in almond extract, zest of 1 fresh lemon, and juice of half of a fresh lemon (approx. 1 Tbsp).  Add baking soda and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Mix just until incorporated.  Pour in half of milk, and beat just until combined.  Gently beat in remaining 1 1/2 cups flour followed by second half of milk.

Pour batter into greased and floured 10″ fluted tube (Bundt) pan.  Bake for approximately one hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 15 mins, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

One of the things I love to do around my birthday is bake Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

Having a birthday so close after Christmas, when everyone is really “over” sweets, Grandma made this simple cake for my birthday every year for as long as I can remember until she passed away.

May sound kind of strange that I like to bake my own cake these days, but I really do.  For me, it’s more than baking.  It’s reminiscing.  It’s sweet, loving memories.  It’s kind of a tribute to my Stella Star.

I use Grandma’s old tin measuring cup as I measure out the flour and sugar.  I grease and flour the pan – a square tube pan – because that is the way Grandma did it.   I crack eggs and stir and think of conversations Grandma and I had in the kitchen while she cooked and baked.  I put it in the oven and wait for the smell…. That smell that takes me right there to her kitchen.  Right back to that feeling of comfort and peace and unconditional love.

So yep – baking my cake gives me almost as much joy as eating it!

I love the way the outside is crisp and crunchy, and the inside is tender and moist and just a little sweet, but packed full of flavor.

This is a very basic cake.  A cake likely made in times when ingredients were simple, money was tight, and everything was made from scratch with love.  And I love it!

Do you have a recipe like this that is just as much of a memory as it is something to eat?  Something that is a ritual of love?

Here is our recipe:

Grandma's Easy Poppy Seed Cake

  • Servings: One Yummy Cake
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup poppy seeds
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 10 inch tube or bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.
Make a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla, oil, and milk.  Mix well.
Fold in poppy seeds.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn onto rack to cool.

When cool, sprinkle generously with sifted powdered sugar.

Enjoy!
Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Time to “Art”

White Floral Abstract Watercolor 11x14 140lb Cold Press

White Floral Abstract Watercolor 11×14 140lb Cold Press

Time to “Art”

It is the week following Christmas…
a time I once used to feel “let down.”

After all the busyness
of the weeks leading up to Christmas…

The checklists
and shopping lists.

The writing and signing…
The sealing and stamping and mailing.

The sifting and stirring…
The  separating and straining and sugaring.

The ripping and wrapping…
The taping and twisting and tying.

The fluffing and folding…
The scrubbing and setting and shining.

It’s all so exciting
leading up to the celebrating!

But there is something special also
about the days “after” that I have truly come to appreciate.

I am fortunate to be able to take time off from work
the week between Christmas and New Year.

And this year is especially special
as I get to spend extra days with my granddaughter.

We are snuggling and tickling…
We are reading and singing and laughing.

We are napping and relaxing…
We are twirling and tumbling and kick-backin’.

And yesterday, during an especially long nap,
I had a chance to escape to my art room

for some much-needed “arting”
that I’ve been longing for.

I had no idea what I wanted to paint –
it’s been weeks since I’ve gifted myself with the time.

But it was as if the paper and water and paints
decided to give me a gift…

And this is what emerged…
A white floral abstract of sorts.

A celebration of time graciously granted
at “life in between.”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Daniel Smith Watercolors:  Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold.

McKinneyX2Designs

Stella Star – Remembering Grandma

This week of Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I couldn’t share favorites without including one of my all-time favorite people …. Grandma…. my Stella Star…. in this post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. 
This day is also a day of sad remembrance of a sweet little boy (shown below with Grandma and Grandpap and me in 1968) – my brother, Johnny, before life and alcoholism stole his life as an adult when he decided one year ago today to step in front of train and let us know there would be no “Clarence” for him….

It was also the birthday of my beautiful, sweet, loving sister-in-law, whose life was cut way too short at 50 years old several years ago to cancer.

Life brings many memories – happy and sad, good and bad.  If we didn’t love, loss wouldn’t hurt so much…..  But it’s still worth it….  And it’s ok to have sad memories as well as happy ones.  It means we loved…. and that’s what life is about.

Stella Star – remembering grandma

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi - 1968

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi – 1968

Grandma was my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E person in the whole wide world growing up.

I have so many happy memories about Grandma I could probably write an entire book.

I took a walk on my lunch break yesterday afternoon in between raindrops and thunderstorms, and for some reason, I thought about Grandma an extra lot on that walk.

I think everything about early summer – the sights, the sounds, the smells – remind me of Grandma.

Maybe it is because I spent almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of EVERY SINGLE SUMMER growing up at Grandma’s house.

Oh – it was the BEST camp ever!

I learned so much from a lady that had to quit school in 4th grade to stay home and take care of her three younger brothers after their young mother passed away. At the ripe ole’ age of about 9 or 10, Grandma became mother, housewife, laundress, seamstress, cook, repair person, gardener and lawn tenderer. Can you even imagine? And this is long before automatic washing machines and dryers and sewing machines, disposable diapers, microwaves, cell phones, Google and Youtube, even indoor bathrooms! This was hard work – all day long – every day.

So though grandma was not formally educated, she was one of the smartest people I knew, and I learned so much from her – more than I realized at the time and even more the older I get looking back. She taught me important STUFF about real life – about cooking – about nature – about relationships – about acceptance and being the best of yourself. It was often disguised in humor or tough love or late night talks or swings on the porch or while picking blackberries. She wasn’t really trying to teach me by telling me how to be or what to say or how to act (or was she?). She lived her life in a way that demonstrated it and allowed me to experience it.

Oh she did some pretty UN-smart things too……. Like cutting off half of her middle finger on the lawn mower blade while trying to remove stuck grass without shutting off the mower…. Or cleaning some tough grime off the kitchen floor with gasoline and getting too close to the oven and catching the house on fire….

She never got her driver’s license after driving THROUGH the garage door, but she somehow managed to get around.

G3

Grandma, Jodi & Jake 1987

She couldn’t balance a checkbook, but she was the best penny pincher and gift giver ever.

She did, however, make the absolute best blackberry piecoffee soup (half coffee/half milk and lots of crumbled up saltines or chunks of toast), homemade sauerkraut and pierogies and halupkis and liver ball soup and apricot bread and nut rolls and salmon patties and dandelion salad and dumplings – oh my!

She also taught me things like how to make beautiful, colorful bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace(many consider a weed) by putting food coloring in a mason jar vase of water so that when the flowers “drank the water,” their white petals turned pink or green or blue.

She taught me how to build a tent and a fort and how to camp out in the woods (about 500 feet from the house – but oh so far and vast when I was young). Thought I must admit I’m still not very good at that woodsy stuff…. Trying!

She could also splice electrical wires and do plumbing repairs.

She even allowed me to learn through crazy experiments like the time my friend, Janet and I decided we were going to boil worms (in her kitchen) for a science fair experiment! Or clean myself up in her bathroom with her yellow towels after experimenting with a mud mask facial – with REAL mud from the gravel road! (Oh the breakout after that escapade…)

What a sport she was – what a mentor – what a hero!

When grandma got older and became sick, it was my time to repay her. I hope I made her feel as loved as she did me.

G4

Grandma, Jodi, & Nick 1990

I’ll never forget the time when she was recovering from a surgery and stayed with Marty and me in our small home in the spare room so we could look after her closely. I was pregnant with my first son, Jake at the time, and still working full time. Grandma was having trouble sleeping at night and would get chilled and shake and couldn’t get warm. She called out in the middle of the night and Marty got her an electric blanket, but nothing worked. She kept trembling and shaking until I climbed on top of her – pregnant belly and all – wrapped my arms around her and calmed her until the shivering stopped – warmed from my body heat – and love. And we slept through the rest of the night. I know she would have done the same for me. That is the kind of love she taught me.

Her name was Stella, and I thought that was the silliest name when I was young. She loved her name, however. She would proudly tell me that Stella meant “star,” and as I look back, I realized she was – and still is – my shining star.

Do you have a Stella Star in your life?

G1

Stella Star & Her #1 Fan – 1985

I sure hope so. There’s nothing better.

Love you Grandma – then, now, and at all the stages of Life In Between…

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

The Lovey of a Bubby

Bubby and Lukey reading Klaus the Mouse – October 2017

The Lovey of a Bubby.

I have a BF named Pam,
the namesake of a special lamb.

For many years, I’ve called her Bubby –
completely out of lots of lovey.

This month about a year ago,
both of our families began to grow.

Pam offically became that sweet Bubby
and I – the happiest of all grandmummies.

She now shares with Lukey,
ever so cutely

Pam the Lamb,
who loves biscuits and jam,

so he will understand the love a friend
that is so great, and has no end.

 

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

If you would like to order a copy of Klaus the Mouse, my illustrated children’s book of original watercolor animals and silly rhymes, simply click here.

Thanks for sharing this precious photo, Bubby!  Love you! ❤

 

 

 

 

A Grandma’s Love

Grandma Susan reading Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales to her grandchildren

A Grandma’s Love.

Grandma Susan (as her grandchildren fondly refer to her) is the kind of Grandma I aspire to be.

In fact…  she’s the kind of human being I aspire to be.

I met Susan through her oldest grandson, who was my youngest son’s “roomer” in college.

To know Susan is to love Susan.  Her joy for life, her positive attitude, her love for her family, her smile, the undeniable glow that radiates from her and touches everyone she encounters….  There is something very special about Susan, and I am so fortunate to call her my friend.

Without my even knowing, Susan purchased a copy of the book I announced authoring and illustrating about a month ago, Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales.  When she received it, she gathered her grandchildren – now aged 13-27 (and even the spouses of those that are married now!), for a fun reading.  They happened to be gathering together for a bridal shower for one of her granddaughters, but they all took some time to sit down with Grandma Susan to listen to a few “silly stories.”

Can you believe how sweet this is?

You see, Susan is a retired school librarian and long-time lover of books and reading to children (and especially her grandchildren!).

I guess it really is true that Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales is a book for children of all ages, and it’s been so fun hearing stories from folks who have purchased the book.

Susan’s granddaughter, Charrie, told me Adele the Gazelle was her favorite character.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your love, and for all your beautiful grands who gave permission for us to share.

I’m a new grandma, whose first granddaughter is not even a year old, but I hope I will be as loved and adored as Grandma Susan when my grand(s) are teenagers and married!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Don’t Let the Grass Grow Under Your Feet

Grass Flip Flops – Don’t let the grass grow under your feet

Don’t Let the Grass Grow Under Your Feet.

After getting a total kick out of these grass flip flops I spotted in a gift shop in Sedona   and seeing where someone who lives in the desert southwest might enjoy these, they reminded me of this saying Grandma used to say.

“Don’t let the grass grow under your feet!”

Some of her other favorites included, “Make hay while the sun shines,” and “Work before pleasure.”

I can still hear her saying these in my head, and it makes me smile.

Grandma only went to school until fourth grade before she had to stay home and take care of her brothers after the passing of her mother.    At the age of nine, she also did the cooking and cleaning and laundry (long before automatic washers and dryers, microwaves, and vacuum cleaners) while her dad worked in the coal mine.

Can we even image any of our children at the age of 9 doing this today?  Not that I would recommend it!

Though she lacked formal education, she had more common sense and a stronger work ethic than anyone I’ve known.  There is nothing she wouldn’t try doing – including electrical work!

She taught me many things.  Things you don’t learn in school.

She taught me the important “stuff!”

But most of all she loved me with a love I still feel today.

My grandma has been gone for over 20 years, but she is still my guiding light in so many ways every day.  Now that I am a grandma, I can only hope that I will have the same impact on my grandchild(ren).

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Updating the Nursery at Grandma’s House

Updating the Nursery at Grandma’s House.

Some of you may remember the fun I had creating a nursery for my first grandchild about seven months ago.  I turned my youngest son’s childhood room into a baby girly nursery room.  Here is what it looked like when I first created it.

Time is passing way too quickly, and our little girl is growing so fast.  She is starting to get around, so it was time to lower the crib so she won’t pull herself up and tumble out.

Then, though I hope she doesn’t need it very soon, we were so generously gifted with a beautiful antique iron day bed from my our bestie cousins, Joyce and “Oh Rob,” fully loaded with soft and fluffy Pottery Barn bedding in just the right colors to match our room!  Isn’t it awesome?!!?!

I moved some things around to make room.  It will be  a nice spot for us to snuggle up and read books soon I’m sure.  It also adds versatility to this guest room allowing for another “single” to stay over.  We love having campers stay over, so the more beds the merrier!

Remember how I made the bumper pads into curtain valances (since they are a “no-no!” now)?  Well – I still had a piece left, so I cut the ties off, cut about a 6-inch opening on one end, and stuffed it with filling from an old pillow I wasn’t using to create a fun tube-shaped pillow.  Throwing that and the other pillow that came with the nursery set really helps carry the theme onto the day bed and pull the room together I think.  Aren’t I so crafty clever?!?!

I am in love with this little space in the house.  It is the smallest bedroom of the four, but it is my current fave!  I’ve redone all three (now) guest rooms.  I think it may soon be time for a master bedroom makeover!  <wink!>

Hope you are having fun in all of your favorites spaces with all of your favorite people… at life in between.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

The Gift

A sweet little Momma
surprised me with this little plant.

A Lavender Plant!!
With a special secret note.

She always pays such attention
and remembers the littlest things.

A thank you gift?
Not sure who is thanking who.

For the honor of spending Fridays
with a sweet little granddaughter.

If only she knew….
I would pay her for the privilege!

SSSHHH!
Don’t tell her!

Love you Colleen!
When I grow up, I want to be just like you!

Cheers & Hugs,
Mom M.