Yes, Wonderful Wednesday is back!
I needed some time to focus on other aspects of life for the last few months, but we're back and ready for the wonderfulness of Wednesdays.
Today I'm sharing one of my favorite slow cooker soup recipes. It was given to me by the mom of some former students who, very kindly, fed me one October evening when she heard my stomach growl over her daughter's piano playing. (that's not embarrassing at all!)
This recipe is my spin on the original based on our personal tastes. I've included the things I personally leave out at the end in case you do like mushrooms and cheese. :)
Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Soup
1 lb hot or mild Italian sausage, casings removed**
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8oz homemade tomato sauce (or 1 can)
1 can (19 oz) diced tomatoes, drained - reserve juices
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 8-10 minutes or until browned, stirring to break up the meat
Transfer to slow cooker with a slotted spoon
Add onion, carrots, broth, seasoning, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and zucchini to slow cooker
Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or on LOW 6-10 hours, or until vegetables are tender
Add parsley to slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 15-20 minutes
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately
Optional, top with Parmesan and more fresh parsley
A couple of months ago I said, "You know you're a music teacher when you're thinking about Halloween in August."
Well, the sentiment holds true for today's post.
Here we are, dedicated piano teachers, preparing for Christmastime and singing all of those carols while watching jack-o-lanterns and ghosts go by as we drive to work.
I don't know about you, but I've been singing Christmas music for the last 2 weeks or so.
Today, I'll be sharing with you 6 Christmas songs that I've arranged for my students over the years. It is my hope that you and your students will get as much enjoyment out of them as my students and I have.
Up on the Housetop
This fun arrangement gives students the chance to explore the wide range of the piano and with a glissando for a flourishing end.
This is by far the most requested piece in my studio.
Seriously, everyone wants to learn Jingle Bells. This pre-reading arrangement is easily accessible to young beginners.
O Christmas Tree
The second most popular piece that my students request? O Christmas Tree.
This approachable arrangement will help your elementary piano students learn eighth notes in a familiar and comfortable way.
O Holy Night
Requested by an adult student, this lyrical arrangement is simple & beautiful.
We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Three things that make this early elementary arrangement awesome:
Deck the Hall
With or without the "s" at the end of the title, this is a piece that your elementary piano students will adore!
Just like We Wish You a Merry Christmas, there are no eighth notes, but the RH position changes and the LH intervals add a little sugar and spice to this piece.
Let's talk planners!
I have had almost every kind of planner out there.
No, really, I have.
I call my planner my Brain Book because everything that's in my brain goes into that book.
Before I started using planners, I used $0.99 notebooks to keep my life in order. When I realized I needed more, I explored as many options as I could before spending any money.
I decided to start with a basic $4 dot-grid notebook from Walmart and I was very proud of the fact that I didn't spend a lot of money on it. Then I went with an Erin Condren dot-grid notebook (wow expensive) and have since tried every notebook/journal in between, except for the the Leuchtturm1917. One thing I knew was that a bound notebook wasn't going to work for me.
So I continued with my dot-grid pseudo-bullet journaling and my Brain Book became a creative outlet.
But then I got tired of having to draw out everything every week and wasting tons of Post-It Notes waiting for the right pages on the right week to put my notes into my Brain Book and completely messing up my lines and having to start all over again and problem and problem and time-consuming problem.
My Brain Book was becoming a project. Instead of serving me, I was serving it.
I was at my breaking point. I had spent 4+ years using a dot-grid notebook for my Brain Book and now it was time for something different.
So as 2019 started wrapping up, I did some more research. I decided a notebook wasn't going to cut it anymore and I had to upgrade to an actual planner. This time I was more careful about determining my requirements before researching options.
Here are my planner requirements:
I get all these things with the Classic Happy Planner from Me and My Big Ideas.
I purchased it for $14 on a Black Friday sale event. I tell you the price so you know that using a mainstream planner doesn't have to be expensive. Something I wish I had known sooner!
Yes, I now spend money on stickers to make my planner pretty as well as functional, but that is completely optional. The planner works just as well without them.
This 7 x 9.25 inch book (#1) is a disc-bound planner (#2 & #5). I chose one that has a little color, that isn't intrusive (#4) and the vertical layout has 3 boxes per day (#3).
This year has been the first year that I've liked my planner for more than 3 months. It's not perfect, and my planner works well, yet I still feel like it could be more functional.
So, there will be changes for my coming 2021 planner and I can't wait to show you everything!
If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my planner. I have a full post about my planner that will come later, but today I wanted to share this week's before the pen spread.
I did it back in September because I plan out a few weeks in advance. Well, over those last few weeks, I haven't been able to stop myself from flipping to this one because I love it so much. And now I finally get to use it!
All of the stickers come from Happy Planner's Squad Goals sticker book, which I got on clearance. Yay!
Please let me know if you'd like to see more of my planner spreads. You can also follow me on Instagram @misschristiemusic
It's barely October as I sit here putting the final touches on this post about Thanksgiving - a post which I started in August - and frankly, it feels surreal to be thinking about resources for a holiday that is still 8 weeks away, but that's what we music teachers do right? We plan Halloween recitals in July and sing Christmas carols in September all in the name spreading the joys of each season through the gift of music.
Christmas is starting to pop up everywhere this time of year. Walk into any store and you're bombarded with a combination of ghoulish and adorable Halloween decorations along with red and green lights, cinnamon brooms, and gigantic blowup Santas.
Now before you think me a Scrooge, I LOVE Christmas with every fiber of my being. But Christmas is at the end of December and there's another holiday between then and now that I also love.
Oh yes, I love Thanksgiving.
One of the main things I love about Thanksgiving is that it hasn't been commercialized to death...granted Black Friday has been creeping it's way in the last few years...but it is still all about family, friends, and above all thankfulness for all the many blessings we have.
Today I'd share a few of my favorite Thanksgiving piano activities, music, and of course recipes.
Piano Activities & Worksheets
Susan Paradis (SusanParadis.com) has a plethora of Thanksgiving themed games, activities, and worksheets. My personal favorite is Color Mr. Turkey
Andrea and Trevor over at TeachPianoToday.com have a great Save the Turkey practice tool.
Piano Sheet Music
Wendy Stevens of ComposeCreate.com has composed a beautiful elementary piano piece called A Thanksgiving Prayer. It's available for purchase as a single use or studio license for this digital download.
Kristin over at EarTrainingAndImprov.com has a cute composition activity that gets kids thinking about what they're thankful for.
Pineapple Lime Cranberry Sauce
I came across this recipe several years ago in an old Country Home magazine and it has been a perennial hit. It also bakes nicely into cupcakes. Yum!
Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
Not everyone is a turkey person. This slow cooker recipe can be made as written to create a beautiful standalone meal or you can eliminate the veggies, add a few more chicken thighs and you have a non-turkey meat option for your guests.
Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your lessons or music classroom? I recently created a Thanksgiving Pinterest board with many games, songs, and activities that I will be trying this year and in the future.
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Resources? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!