Homemade Cherry Pie

Homemade Cherry Pie.

On a recent visit to an awesome new grocery store that opened up near us called Fresh Thyme, I discovered they carried big 2.5 lb bags of red sour pie cherries.  I was so excited!  This is something hard to find where we live.  You can find dark sweet cherries everywhere, and they are delicious for eating, but to make a good old-fashioned homemade cherry pie, you have to have the sour cherries.

I snagged a couple bags and was excited to get to make a cherry pie for hubby for Valentine’s Day last week.

If you are lucky enough to find sour cherries, here is the simple, old-fashioned recipe I use to make a classic cherry pie.

Bake a little love!

Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, tapioca, and almond extract.  Mix well, and let sit while preparing pie crust.

Prepare crust and place bottom layer in pie plate.  Fill with cherry mixture.  Top filling with dabs of butter followed by top crust, being sure to cut slits or a shape to allow bubbling and steam to escape.  Spread a small amount of milk or water on top crust, and sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of sugar if desired.

Place pie in oven.  Cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.  Bake approximately one hour.  Remove foil and continue baking until filling bubbles out of top and crust is beautifully browned.

Allow to cool completely to set.  Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Look Inside

February Morning – Mars, PA 2018

Look Inside.

The tiniest drop of water
hanging on the edge of the limb

that might not last
longer than a few moments

holds a glimpse of life.

It tells a story.

Look inside.
Ignore the blurred surroundings.

Squint hard.
Look closely.

Search deep

into this beautiful thing.

Search deep…
inside of You.

Like the tiny drop of water
that reflects the trees trunk and limbs.

Look inside your heart

to see what branches inside of you.

What is growing and stretching
and feeding your soul.

What is reaching
to grasp your happiness.

Look inside

at the beauty of you.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Bouquet of Love

Heart Bouquet of Love Watercolor

Heart Bouquet of Love Watercolor

A Bouquet of Love.

If I could pick the perfect bouquet,
I’d pick a bouquet of love.

It would be filled with memories of special kisses…
a first from a shy young man who I still get to kiss goodnight each evening before falling asleep,
a first on the forehead and nose and cheeks and mouth of each of my baby boys the day they were born,
a first on the forehead and nose and cheeks and mouth of my granddaughter the day she was born,
the last one I gave my grandma when we said our final goodbyes,
the ones I watched each of my sons give to their wives on the days they said “I do.”

It would be filled with memories of special hugs…
that one my dad gave me when we first saw each other after almost 40 years apart,
the one his wife  gave me the day she met me and told me my dad always promised her a daughter, and now she had one,
the ones I receive and give upon greeting and saying farewell to friends and family I love so dearly.

It would be filled with memories of cherished moments…
those every day moments –
a text, a Snapchat, a phone call, a visit,
walks with Charlie,
sunrises, sunsets, snowfalls, birds tweeting,
a card or letter or package received.

So as I spent just a teensy bit of spare time last evening
doodling and splashing paint to create a simple, inspired* Valentine,
I created a bouquet of love.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Pinterest inspired watercolor – source unknown

LOVE is all you need

Love Heart Abstract Watercolor 11x14 140lb cold press

Love Heart Abstract Watercolor 11×14 140lb cold press

LOVE is all you need.

In these days of…
terrorism,
war,
shootings,
suicide,
drug abuse,
social pressures,
revelations of sexual abuse allegations,
fights over politics,
disagreement over religion…

Can’t we simply
seek
Love?

Why is it so hard…
to just Love?

 

Today is Sunday.
Our family will be gathering
to watch football
and eat together.

To me – that is love…
being together,
being there for each other,
spending time together,
supporting each other.

Let’s seek love
for ourselves,
for others,
and for the world.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart.

Each year when you* bloom –
my favorite flower of all –
you gift me with the pause to remember
the life to celebrate,
the grandma to honor,
the sweet memories to cherish.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*This bleeding heart plant is over 25 years old and has lived and thrived at two different homes for me.  It was a gift from my grandma that will move with me wherever I live.  It is just one of several sweet special “things” I cherish because they were a part of her that lives on with me.  Love you Grandma!  It’s Springtime – one of your faves!

Five-Minute Homemade Rustic Artisan Bread

bread-5-minute-rustic-artisan-bread

Five-Minute Homemade Rustic Artisan Bread.

Aren’t these loaves beautiful?!  I recently found this recipe that makes homemade bread so easy!

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You can mix this dough together in five minutes.  Then it just needs to rest for two hours while you go about doing something… anything else.  After that, throw it in the fridge – for up to 14 days!  Whenever you want a fresh loaf of bread, grab a hunk of dough, and bake it.  Super simple, super delicious!

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So… disclaimer… you obviously can’t make it from start to finish in five minutes, but that really is all the longer the dough takes to mix together, and there is no kneading, so it really is a simple way to make warm, fresh, delicious homemade bread quickly and easily with just a few simple staple ingredients!

Five-Minute Homemade Rustic Artisan Bread

  • Servings: 4 1 lb loaves
  • Print

Ingredients:bread-5-minute-rustic-artisan-bread

  • 3 cups lukewarm water (approx. 100 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coarse salt (I love using Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)
  • 6 1/2 cups flour

Directions:

Pour water in large bowl.  Sprinkle with yeast and salt, and mix until dissolved.  Add flour all at once, and mix until completely incorporated.  That’s it!  Five minutes.  No kneading.

Place a clean kitchen towel over the bowl and let it sit for two hours.

After two hours, cover bowl with saran wrap (but not too tight as it needs a little vent for gases to escape), and throw it in the fridge.

Your dough is ready to use at anytime in the next 14 days.

When you are ready to bake a loaf, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Grab a hunk of dough with floured hands.  Do not punch it down, and do not knead or overwork it.  Gently shape as desired into a ball, loaf, rolls – whatever you like.  Place on a baking stone. (I bake absolutely EVERYthing on baking stones – cookies, bread, roasted vegetables, meatloaf, french fries – they are all I use in the oven – and the results are awesome!) You can let it rest for 30-40 minutes or bake right away – depending on the density you desire.  Dust top of dough with flour (and salt if desired).  Slash a few cuts in the dough with a serrated knife.

Place an empty metal broiler pan on bottom rack of oven and fill with warm water right before placing dough in oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust is a rich brown color and firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*original recipe found at Leite’s Culinara

A Valentine Couples Camp Party

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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!

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shaped-cheese-and-pepperoni-appetizer

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shaped-vegetable-tray-appetizer

valentines-day-couples-camp-heart-shrimp-cocktail-platter-appetizer

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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!

love-potion-cocktail-grand-marnier-peach-raspberry-and-champagne-valentines-day-couples-camp

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

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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.

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

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valentines-couple-camp-love-shack-building

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…

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

love-shack-mary-valentines-couple-camp

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.”

mckinney-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

Bubby lovingly created the “McKinney B&B.”

mckinneys-b-and-b-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

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

glenns-getaway-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

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…

jims-american-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

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

jills-sweet-shack-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

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

outhouse-love-shack-valentines-couple-camp

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!

valentine-couples-camp-dinnerstuffed-shells-and-meatballs

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

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and we gave another toast to friendship!

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

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

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

valentines-day-couples-camp-dove-red-velvet-chocolates-on-guest-pillows

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

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dining-room-set-for-valentines-day-couples-camp-2017-2

and even little heart shaped spoons!

dining-room-set-for-valentines-day-couples-camp-2017-heart-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,

chocolate-dipped-strawberry-roses

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

chocolate-strawberry-tart-valentines-day-couples-camp-dessert

chocolate-strawberry-tart-valentines-day-couples-camp-dessert-2

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.

valentines-couples-camp-breakfast

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,
Jodi

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Wafer Cookies

chocolate-dipped-sugar-wafer-cookies-2

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Wafer Cookies.

Remember those light, crispy, sweet wafer cookies you loved as a child that came in fun colors and flavors?  Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate, even Peanut Butter…  Oh how I loved them!

Grandma would occasionally get them as a special treat, and we would enjoy them as a late night treat on a hot summer night while sitting outside on the swing catching a cool breeze that could not be felt sitting in the overheated non-air conditioned house.

chocolate-dipped-sugar-wafer-cookies

I hadn’t thought about these sugary treats for years, but I recently stopped in a local candy shoppe where they featured a pair of these sweet little cookies dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with colorful sprinkles, and wrapped in cellophane.   I couldn’t resist trying – even at the crazy price they were asking… several dollars for two little treats.

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Well – OMG – there were delish!  And I realized they would be so easy to make!  So I found them at my local grocery store, where a whole package of sugar wafer cookies cost a whopping 99 cents!

I dipped them in chocolate, sprinkled them with fun Valentine sprinkles, and I’ll be sharing them with some friends I love dearly this weekend!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi