Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

Today is the first full day of Spring, and oh how ready I am to welcome it!

It may still be a little brown and chilly outside, but I put the snowies away and brought out the flowers and bunnies and birds.

I got this sweet tray and floral and bunny from my friend Anne’s Farmhouse Primitives shop at Berry Vine Gifts.

The amazing candle is from Antique Candle Co. in the most luscious fragrance of Country Pear by Cotton Stem.  It is one of the most wonderful smelling candles I have ever had!

These little bunnies are from a recent trip to Hobby Lobby.

And I love this Springy green wreath I also found in Anne’s shop at Berry Vine Gifts.  It replaced the cotton stem wreath I had here for Winter.

And what do you think of this fun little stack of books I made?  I’ve been seeing them on Instagram on a few feeds I follow, and it turns out I had everything needed to make them myself.  In fact, I might be making more to sell at Berry Vine Gifts and through our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop.  So many possibilities of quotes and personalized messages can be made.  For my first try, I did my favorite life message, “Cherish the Moments.”

Welcome Spring!

Breathe in the fresh air.

Soak in the warmth of sunshine.

Bloom and blossom like the flowers.

Whistle a happy tune with a spring in your step.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Painting Spring

Bold Pink and Peach Spring Tulip 11×14 Original Watercolor

Painting Spring.

It is March,
and the temperatures
are still
below freezing
where I live.

But we are
“Springing” ahead
this weekend
to daylight savings time.

Longer days,
warmer temperatures,
birds singing,
flowers blooming….

But for now,
all I can do is
paint
Spring.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Unfurl

Young Fern in Spring, Mars, PA – May 2018

Unfurl.

Spread out your arms
and show your true beauty.

Open up your heart
and show your true love.

Unwind your mind
and show your creativity.

Unpack your burdens
and feel the lightness of hope.

Uncover your inhibitations
and welcome the unknown.

Reach beyond the tightness
and ease into peace.

Unfurl.

 

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad.

I love broccoli  – cooked or raw.
And I love broccoli salad.

The traditional version has a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, and it is delicious!

But I was looking for a way to “lighten it up” a bit when making dinner one day this week, so I tried it with a vinaigrette dressing instead.

And it is DELISH too!

It is lighter and fresher tasting, and it is about half the calories of the traditional version!

This really is a nice twist on a classic that is healthier and just as yummy.

Here is how I made it.

Lightened Up Vinaigrette Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh fresh broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 thinly sliced, chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 large sweet red pepper, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices bacon, diced and cooked
  • Vinaigrette:
    • 2 Tbsp apple cider (or your favorite – red wine, white, etc.) vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper

Directions:  Combine first seven ingredients in large bowl.  Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Lemon Lavender Loaf

Lemon Lavender Loaf.

Fresh, bright, tart lemon zest and juice mixed with sweet, flowery, fragrant dried lavender buds in a beautifully glazed loaf.

I couldn’t decide if this should be considered a bread or a cake, so I am simply calling it loaf.     Plus I love the alliteration of a name where all the words start with the same Lovely Letter!

A dear friend gifted me a bag of dried lavender recently, and I have been dying to use it.  I finally found some time early Sunday morning to bake this beautiful loaf to enjoy on a beautiful Spring day.

It is light and soft and such a perfect Springtime treat.

Here is how I made it.

Lemon Lavender Loaf*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk with 1 Tbsp white vinegar let set 5 min)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp dried lavender buds
  • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 Tbsp milk
    • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1/2 tsp dried lavender buds

Directions:

Prepare two loaf pans with shortening and flour.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, and continue mixing until mixture looks like buttercream frosting.

Gently mix in salt and baking soda.

Add lemon zest and juice to buttermilk, and set aside.

To batter, alternate adding flour and lemon buttermilk in three additions, and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in lavender.

Pour into prepared pans and bake approximately 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool loaves 10 minutes in pans.  Remove and cool completely.

Once cool, prepare glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk, lemon zest and juice, and lavender.  Pour over loaves.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Original recipe slightly adapted from FudgeRipple

Don’t Stop Working for It

Pine Squirrel in the Spring Snow – Mars, PA – April 7, 2018

If you
can’t stop
thinking
about it,
Don’t stop
working
for it.

This little cutie is an American Red (Pine) Squirrel that hangs out in our back yard with the birds and other bigger squirrels (and chipmunks and turkey and deer and Charlie of course).  These little squirrels only stand about 6 inches tall, being just a bit bigger than a chipmunk, and weigh about a half of a pound (200-250 g).

Saturday morning, we awoke to another Spring snow with two or three inches on the deck railing.  This little bugger was not giving up on his quest to get to the (ahem) “bird” feeder for breakfast.  I caught him burrowing full force through the snow that was taller than him when on all fours, but he was determined…. and he got there.

He reminded me not to give up and not to stop working on what we want and where we want to go.

Thanks little buddy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

In Search of the Little Things

Daffodils Popping out of the Ground - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Daffodils Popping out of the Ground – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

In Search of the Little Things.

Sometimes we need to get down low,

Forsythia Buds on Branches - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Forsythia Buds on Branches – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or look extra closely,

Grape Hyacinths Emerging - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Grape Hyacinths Emerging – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or push some other things out of the way,

Bleeding Hearts Emerging - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Bleeding Hearts Emerging – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

or look for tiny changes.

Irises surfacing - February 20, 2018 - Mars, PA

Irises surfacing – February 20, 2018 – Mars, PA

The little things are there…
Little signs of change…
Little hints of what is about to happen.

As I walked around the yard late yesterday afternoon in bare feet on a record-breaking warm day for February in our area (we hit 80 degrees F!), I searched for little things.  I searched for tiny changes. I searched for little hints of Spring.

And they were everywhere!  Daffodils and hyacinths and irises popping through the earth.  Buds developing on forsythia branches.  Intricate formations of future bleeding hearts.

And it made me think…
Again…
On a topic that has not left my mind or my heart…

The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida last week where a 19 year old boy/man killed 17 innocent children at school.

As the days pass, details are being revealed.
Little hints of issues.
Little signs of change.

Didn’t anyone notice?
Wasn’t anyone paying attention?

Why was this troubled young man able to purchase military grade assault weapons?
For that matter – why is any civilian legally able to purchase military grade assault weapons?
That is certainly one important issue I feel needs addressed.

But we must also be diligent.
We must also be watching.
We must be paying attention
to our children.

We must be searching for and noticing the little things…
The little changes, the hints, the signs
happening with our children…

Before it is too late.

It is up to us.

Hugs,
Jodi