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

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies.

It’s December, and that means time to start Christmas cookie baking!

These cookies are a wonderful version of pecan pie in a cookie!

They are similar to Pecan Tassies, but a lot easier.

The cookie is buttery and shortbread-like, while the filling is nutty and sticky and sweet and AMAZING!

I had a little bit of extra filling left that I just couldn’t throw away, so I spread it on a sheet of crescent roll dough, rolled it up, and sliced it into 8 easier-than-pie pecan “sticky buns!”

So
worth
it!

Hope you will give these yummy cookies a try for something new on your Christmas cookie baking list.  I do believe these will become a regular in our home!

Here is the recipe I found at  Crazy for Crust, which I only slightly altered.  Thanks for a great recipe, Dorothy!

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Batter:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pecan Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse or flaked salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 Tbsp. Half and Half or Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Optional:  Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top of cooled cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in electric mixer until creamy.   Add in baking powder, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until well combined.

Shape dough, two tablespoons at a time, into balls, and place the balls two inches apart on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Indent a hole in center with your thumb.

Prepare filling by stirring pecans, salt, brown sugar, and vanilla with cream until it forms a thick mixture.  Spoon approximately one teaspoonful into thumb indentation of each cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on stone or cookie sheet before removing to rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cookies freeze well for up to a month.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Easy DIY Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar


Easy DIY “Christmas Countdown” Advent Calendar.

I’ve been dreaming of making this since summer….
and I finally got busy and did it this week.

Just in time!

I was looking for a fun way for my granddaughter to count down the days until Christmas with a little surprise each day, so when I found this inexpensive Over the Door Shoe Organizer this summer, I knew just what I was going to do.

I used fabric paint to paint the numbers on each “shoe pouch” – just the right number for an advent calendar!

And it was so much fun shopping for little toys and art projects and treats and hair bows and socks and mittens to fill all 24 compartments.

I think the anticipation of Christmas is almost more fun than the day itself.  I love the whole month leading up to it.

A friend shared this Advent Calendar of Kindness recently on Facebook, and I couldn’t resist sharing it too.

Don’t let the stress of the materialism of the holiday ruin this special time.  Small gifts of anticipation and everyday acts of kindness can make all the difference!  It’s what we need more of.

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Getting Ready

Bunny’s First Woodland Christmas Watercolor – 11×14

Getting Ready.

My DIL and “biz partner,” Colleen, and I have been busy getting ready for an event this coming weekend for McKinneyX2Designs – the Mars Craft Show.

For those of you not from Mars :), it’s really a bigger event than you can imagine, and we are fortunate to be a part of it!

Colleen is been busy making these adorable little trees and festive holiday signs.

While I’ve been busy painting

Dancing Penguin Watercolor 11×14

and printing

and folding

and boxing.

We are excited to share our joy!  The Mars Craft Show features hundreds of local artisans spread out between the Mars Middle School and Mars High School (where you can find us – in the Auxilliary Gym).  A shuttle bus runs all day between the two buildings between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

In addition to this event, we have two special birthdays coming up for a Pap Pap and granddaughter who share the same birthday.  I also have a short overnight business trip this week, so a lot going on.

I’m going to take a few days off from blogging, so if you don’t hear from me, know I am just busy and having fun and will be back soon.

If you like what you see here and are local, we hope you will visit us at the Mars Craft Show or Christmas in the Woods at Berry Vine Gifts this weekend.  If you are not local, please visit our Etsy shop or our website for more information.

Back to getting ready!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon.

Need I say more?

Gooey, buttery, melted baked brie smothered with smokey bacon candied with brown sugar and maple syrup and balanced out with tangy rice vinegar, coarse black pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce.

This heavenly appetizer recipe really puts the crack in cracker.

If you are looking for the next must-have appetizer to make or take to a picnic or party, look no further.  I can pretty much guarantee this will be a winner! It sure was with my family this past weekend.

Here is how I made it, adapted from a recipe found here.

Baked Brie with Candied Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz wheel of brie cheese
  • 8 slices thick bacon, diced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4-5 drops Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or your fave)
  • 1 box water crackers (or your fave)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook diced bacon in a hot skillet until just crispy.

While bacon is cooking, stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, rice vinegar, black pepper and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Drain grease from bacon, and add sauce.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes until thick and bubbly.

Place brie in small stoneware casserole or baking pan.  Top with candied bacon.  Bake 10 minutes or until brie is warm and gooey inside.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.  Serve with water crackers or your favorite cracker.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Hoppy Easter!

Easter Bunny Watercolor 2018 11×14

Hoppy Easter!

For those celebrating, I thought I would share a quick watercolor I did this weekend of a magical Easter Bunny.

A bunny that is THE Easter bunny would have to be magical right?

In doing a bit of quick internet research, I learned the Easter Bunny originated in Germany in the 1500s, and came to the United States in the 18th century through Protestant German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area (not far from me in Mars, PA!).  They told their children about the “Osterhase,” who brought good children colored eggs, candy, and sometimes toys in nests they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope this magical watercolor bunny brings a smile to your face and joy to your day.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

 

A Merry Grinchmas Celebration

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Merry Grinchmas Celebration.

As I sit by the fire late Christmas evening – basking in the warmth and glow of a wonderful Christmas holiday spent over the past week or so with many of those I love most, I feel so grateful.  The house is quiet, except for the dishwasher running, the fire crackling, and a holiday movie playing in the background.

I’m feeling peaceful and content.

There is nothing like the excitement leading up to Christmas, and I loved hosting three dinner parties three days in a row (and that’s not counting one the weekend before).  But there is also something very special too about the days that follow Christmas….

The calm afterglow…  The snuggling in…  The nesting…  Looking at pictures… Smiling at the memories.

Movies, books, leftovers, jammies…

Today, I want to share a fun party we had this past Saturday, the eve of Christmas eve, with our McHendy family.

My bestie, Jill and I decided we wanted to surprise our families with a theme, so we created a McHendy Grinchmas Celebration.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Happy Whoville feast –

complete with Roast Beast (Beef Tenderloin),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comWho Mash (Mashed Potatoes),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Greens (Sauteed Fresh Green Beans with garlic),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand Cindy Lou Who Salad (Crisp Greens, Tart Pomegranate Seeds, Crunchy Pecans, and Creamy Goat Cheese).

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThis feast was preceded by some fun appetizers earlier in the day, including Grinchy Green Deviled Eggs,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Santa Hats,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand a Tortilla Wrap Christmas Tree.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd it was followed by a tiered tray of Grinchmas Cookies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand plenty of other sweet treats.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comEach guest received a little favor bucket that included a green ornament with a tiny red heart and lime green and red candies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comas well as a Grinch beanie hat (which we all wore for a fun family photo – with the exception of hubby who wore a full furry Grinch onesie!)

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThe games planned took a different twist than intended, but ended up being just as fun!

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThere were sleigh rides and races,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comI Spy the Who Hash,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand boxed games around the cleared dinner table.


Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGuests of honor

adorned the powder room and office doors.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd as we ate and played and talked and laughed and cried, we celebrated being family in every true, authentic sense of the word.  And we reminded ourselves that “Merry Christmas doesn’t come from the store.  Maybe Christmas perhaps is a little bit more.”

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comCheers & Hugs,
Jodi

My Revised Holiday To Do List

This week leading up to Christmas, I am going to share a few of my favorite posts from the past starting with this one I have shared every December since 2014 when I started this blog.  It’s a classic list that I need to remind myself about this time of year.  Maybe you do too, so here it is:

My Revised Holiday To Do List

What are you up to this weekend?  Do you have a crazy, long, exhausting “To Do” list for getting ready for the holidays?

I recently saw a great revised list on Instagram… and it really made me think.   So I got to working on re-setting some of my own priorities.

Christmas to do list 2014

#1:  Do you have a lot of presents left to buy?  I do!  But I’m not going to worry about it.  If it gets down to the wire, I’ll just give gift cards or money.  I think my kids like that best anyway.

And when I receive a text from my cousin’s six-year old daughter like I did earlier this week that says:

I have a concert on Saturday December 13.  Can you be there?  I don’t know what time

Well – you can bet I’ll be there.  Those kind of invites are too precious to pass up!

#2:  Do you still have wrapping to do?  Remember there are always gift bags.  Instead, make sure you wrap everyone you love with lots of warm hugs.  And my little twist is to always try to be the last to let go….  You never know when you might get the chance again or how much that person needs it at that moment.

#3:  I still haven’t sent my cards out.  And you know I’m a card making fool!  Much more fun creating them than addressing and stuffing and licking envelopes, so whatever ones I do get out, I do – and it will be sent with all the love and time I put into it.  But if I don’t get them out, or even mail them after the holidays – that’s ok – right?!  No crime!  I want to make sure I’m sending love, not just a card for a card’s sake.

#4:  I’ve got lots of food shopping to do – and no worries – the stores are open 24 hours, so I will eventually get there.  What I do want to make sure we do is donate food to those in need.

#5:  I love to make cookies – and it is a rare occasion that we don’t have a homemade cookie in the house to munch on or offer a guest – but guess what?  No Christmas cookies baked yet.  I’ll get to some I’m sure.  What is more important is making time for people – like the little cutie we’re going to go listen to sing on Saturday or the chocolate-making class I went to last night with my daughter-in-law.  Sure – I could be baking, but I first want to make time for those I love.

#6:  I adore seeing all the Christmas lights, and Marty and I sure had fun at Kennywood’s Festival of Lights, but what is more important is that I make time to BE that light.

#7:  And Parties….. I kinda live for hosting parties.  We are hosting four in a row from Christmas Eve until Saturday 12/27, and then again on New Year’s Eve.  YIPPEE!  Am I stressing over it?!  NOPE!  Will I fuss?  Probably not so much.  Or maybe a little – if I have time.  But if I don’t — – not gonna worry!  As long as the people show up, we have something to eat and drink, and there is lots of love and laughing – then the party is a success!  Right?

Christmas to do list revised 2014

So check your list.  Does it need a little tweaking?  A couple of revisions?  Make sure you are cherishing each moment along the way.

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies.

So the thing about Christmas cookies is that it’s fun to make them fancy.

Well – sometimes fancy might mean taking a usual cookie (like my “Jodi’s Best Ever  Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and using Dark Chocolate M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (DARK Chocolate M&Ms is the key here! They are insanely delicious!), and then dunking them in some more dark chocolate….

…. but only half way….

to be fancy!

They are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

You can make these by simply following my tried and true recipe here and substituting Dark Chocolate M&Ms or your favorite Maybe you want to use chopped up Butterfingers or Snickers or Milky Way candies or maybe even peppermint sticks.

Go wild.  Get fancy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi